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What Is a Adverse Possession? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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Adverse possession is a category of probate law that allows an individual who takes possession of someone else’s land to become a legal owner of the property.

Otherwise known as squatters’ rights, an adverse possession claim can heavily determine the legal ownership of land or real estate property.  As a property owner, you must understand how the adverse possession statute works. This will help you know how best to shield your estates and have them in the best hands possible.

Before anyone can have the rights and legal title of property transferred to them by the original owner or the heir of the deceased, they need to be able to meet certain conditions. Taking possession of the property without meeting the conditions or forcefully possessing property that has been willed to another beneficiary is what is known as adverse possession. Keep reading this short guide to find out the most important things you need to know about adverse possession.

The importance of adverse possession

Adverse possession is important because it ensures that people use their lands and properties efficiently.

Also, it allows another person to make good use of a property that the legal owner has probably neglected. Hence, they can conveniently acquire rights and property after some time.

How is Adverse Possession structured?

As mentioned earlier, adverse possession is a legal statute that allows a person to take possession of another’s land or property by granting them the legal title. This transfer proceeding can happen with or without the knowledge of the original property.

There are two ways that adverse possession can take; intentional and unintentional adverse possession.

In intentional adverse possession, the trespasser tries to occupy another’s property through illegal means. Just like the term implies, they knowingly come to another person’s property to take over without meeting the necessary conditions.

While in an unintentional adverse possession, the possessor can claim legal rights to the property if they have taken care of the property in the past without knowing its actual owner. The claimant in this case can prove a successful adverse possession. Thus, taking possession without paying a dime.

There’s a difference between adverse possession and prescriptive easement. The former allows the person to have the full title of the land whereas the latter applies o when the person is allowed to only USE not OWN the property.

Lifespan Of Adverse Possession

If the possessor has held the property for up to 10 years, they can apply at a land registry to be granted permanent ownership of the property.

For unregistered land or property, the possessor is expected to hold on for 12 years since it is most difficult to track original owners of such properties at the land registry.

History Of Adverse Possession

The legal significance of adverse possession can be traced back to the American common law concept popularly called “seisin”; when the main owner of the property is allowed to hold on to it at least for the period of his or her lifetime.

Synonyms for Adverse Possession

A common synonym for adverse possession is “squatters right”

Frequently Asked Questions About Adverse Possession

How do you beat an adverse possession claim?


In defending an adverse possession claim, there are several techniques that you can employ even though they may not be so obvious.
You can say that the land was registered and fenced throughout the claim. Also, there were a few trees planted on the land during that period. If the court finds your defense to be true, you will most likely win the dispute.

What evidence do I need for adverse possession?

First,  you need to provide factual proof that you have had the land in question and that you’ve always had the intention to claim ownership of the land.
Whatever you do, you must keep in mind that you have physically controlled the land over a long period.

How can one obtain property through adverse possession?

By challenging the real owner to adverse possession. After possessing the land adversely for 10 years or more, an individual can apply at a land registry to be registered and listed as the new owner of the land. Thus, replacing the initial and existing owner.

What is the limitation period for adverse possession?

The ideal period of limitation for adverse possession is 12 years. The law of adverse possession started from the limitation act of 1980 section 15; no one should bring an action regarding land recovery after 12 years has expired

Can a family member claim adverse possession?

If a family member decides to adverse a family property, the request won’t be granted. Rather, they can hold onto the property on behalf of them and the rest of the family members. The “ possession for one in possession of all” applies here
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