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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.


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