The real estate market contributes significantly to the overall economy. Buyers and sellers negotiate a sale that provides the most mutually beneficial result. In some cases; however, the legal transfer of real estate follows an unconventional route. The legal doctrine of adverse possession permits individuals to acquire the title to the property from others provided they satisfy a certain number of very specific requirements.
What are the elements of adverse possession?
Individuals who occupy the property must satisfy five requirements:
- Actual Possession: This element requires persons to physically occupy the property, not merely have or state an intent to do so.
- Hostile Possession: Under this element, persons occupy the property without permission.
- Exclusive and Continuous: The individual must occupy the property without interruption and without sharing the property with others.
- Statute of Limitations (SOL): The length of time state law requires an individual to occupy the property continuously. Connecticut law establishes the SOL at 15 years.
- Open and Notorious: Individuals must occupy the property as a normal property owner would. Any outside observer should know of their presence.
What are the types of adverse possession?
Adverse possession may occur in one of two ways. First, the intentional adverse possession occurs when trespassers remain on the property for the required length of time. Usually, this is in case of an absentee owner. Second, unintentional adverse possession occurs when neighbors extend accessory buildings or fences beyond the property lines.
Families considering additions to their homes may focus on more pressing issues, e.g., costs, increased resale value, timetable for completion and not consider surveying issues. Similarly, those who own property in Connecticut may assume that “No news is good news.” Attorneys who understand the laws regarding boundary disputes can offer guidance.