What is Adverse Possession and How Does It Work? Well, whenever you ask a Board Certified Real Estate Lawyer about adverse possession, he puts it in the context of real estate. There is a Statute, which allows you if you have, you possess the property adversely. Meaning that you’re living there and you have what they call Open and Notorious Possession of the property. Means that you probably fenced it or it’s been enclosed by a fence, and you’re not there with permission of the owner of the property. That means that you’re possessing the property adversely.
This can happen, particularly if you believe you own the property, and you might have a Deed to it, and so you’re living there, and yet there’s other people who are claiming ownership. Under that scenario, you can then file what they call a Suit to Quiet Title to eliminate the interest of any other parties, because you have what they call Color of Title. Meaning you have a Deed to the property and that you are there, and you have open and notorious possession. Meaning that you’re living there and it’s not like it’s you’re living in another State, but you’re possessing it.
Then, in addition to that, you need to be paying the taxes on the property, and after seven years of paying the taxes, as well as having some sort of Deed to the property, you can then file a Suit to Quiet Title, based upon Adverse Possession. Now, there’s a problem, however, whenever someone moves into the property, and they don’t have the Deed to the property. They can possess the property adversely. Meaning if someone is out of State, or someone’s died, and no one objects, basically a squatter that moves in and takes over the property.
Well, they’re possessing the property adversely. However, that does not mean that they will eventually have a right to claim ownership of the property, just because they have possessed the property adversely or they’re living there, and they can be subject to a cause of action, which would depossess them of the property, and it’s not a defense to say, “Oh, I’ve been living here for seven years, and oh, I’ve been paying the taxes.” Well, that doesn’t work. However, if they live there and there’s a particular form with the Property Appraiser’s Office that you can complete that says that you wish to return the property for taxes. It’s a particular form that you complete and say, “Send me the tax bill. The purpose of this is that I’m going to pay the taxes for seven years, and after seven years, and I’ve occupied the property, well, then I’m in a position to file a suit to Quiet Title.” That’s another way to obtain title by adversely possession of the property.
Some folks are concerned about when their neighbor’s fence is over their property line by a foot, or a few feet, or whatever. They’re concerned about their neighbor trying to claim their property, they’re losing ownership. That doesn’t happen, because they don’t have title, and furthermore, you could consider consent, so that’s the other thing. Is if you let your relative, or anybody else, your friend, or whatever, live on the property and they pay the taxes, or whatever.
They’re living there with your consent, and so they cannot later claim some kind of ownership, because they are not claiming it adversely. Whenever your neighbor’s fence is on your property, probably the worst thing that you could do was to say, “Move your fence,” and then not do anything about it, because then it would show that they’re adversely possessing a part of it. If you just leave it there, well, they can’t say that they were possessing your property adversely, just because you being a good neighbor, and let them maintain their fence.
If you have any questions about adverse possession and trying to build title, you can give me a call at 727-847-2288. Let me remind you, if you’re viewing this out of State, that I’m a Board Certified Real Estate Attorney in the State of Florida. I can’t give you any advice as far as any other State is involved, and so what I say on this video is, “Florida Specific.” My phone number again is 727-847-2288.