Adverse Possession in California


Adverse possession is the ability to obtain title by occupying land for a statutory time period without the permission of the owner. In essence, adverse possession rewards the occupier who makes use of the land, and also gives the property owner an incentive to manage his or her ownership.

Requirements

  • open possession

  • notorious possession

  • continuous for the statutory period

  • hostile

  • adverse to a claim of right

  • *in some instances, payment of the property taxes on the disputed property

The adverse possessor must file a quite title action against the person who may have valid title in order to claim new ownership as merely meeting the above requirements is not sufficient in order to gain proper possession.

Defeating an Adverse Possession Claim

An owner with lawful possession may take steps to prevent another from asserting an adverse possession claim. They may do this by visiting the property regularly, checking if anyone else is living on or using the property, checking the county tax records periodically and more.

Unoccupied property should be fenced in and/or the gates should be locked so that a squatter does not come onto the land. Signs should be posted at each entrance warning against trespassers. Another method is to send a notice (in writing) to a trespasser stating that the use is permissive, this will grant a license (which is freely revocable) and will defeat the hostility claim of the potential adverse possessor.

Finally, if the true owner discovers a squatter, they may bring an action for injunctive relief to obtain a court order barring the user from such future use.

Do you have questions regarding your adverse possession claim? If so, please contact Aziz Legal by phone at (408) 203-4627 or email us at abid@azizlegal.com.

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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