Does paying delinquent property taxes on someone else’s property convey any ownership rights?

UPDATED: Sep 5, 2016

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Does paying delinquent property taxes on someone else’s property convey any ownership rights?

I inherited my uncle’s house along with my 2 brothers. My mother lives alone in this house and is paying delinquent property taxes. Does that allow her some property rights after a certain period of time?

Asked on September 5, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

After 5 years, if she is openly (obviously) occupying the home, paying the taxes, and is willing to claim that it is or should be hers, she may be able to get the home under adverse possession. If she did not live there, then the payment of taxes by itself would not give her an adverse possession claim, but the combination of taxes plus occupancy, if she is also wiling to try to claim it out from under her children, may. You and your brothers are strongly advised to 1) pay the property taxes yourselves; and 2) either a) sell the property well before 5 years of her living there and paying taxes elapses; or b) tell you mother that she will have to leave--you can file an action for "ejectment" (eviction for nontenants) to remove her--or she will have to sign a lease and pay rent, since once you convert her to rent-paying tenant, it is almost impossible for her to make an adverse possession claim--and if she's living there, she should pay to do so.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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