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Adverse Possession

What happens when someone takes possession of property that is owned by someone else? It happens often and on various levels, from a fence notched slightly over the property line to full blown property occupations. When someone takes possession of a property and the possession is hostile, actual, exclusive, continuous, open and notorious the person may be entitled to legal. ownership, depending on the amount of time they have possessed the property. Immediate action is often required to protect your land.


What must happen for a possessor to lay claim to a property through adverse possession and obtain it?

Arizona having one of the most comprehensive adverse possession laws can allow the claim of land by a possessor in as little as 2 years. When a person possesses a property and wants to claim ownership through adverse possession the person must have occupied the property openly and used it publicly. The possessor cannot share the property with the public or the true owner as the occupation must be exclusive. The possessor does not have to physically occupy, reside in, or cultivate the property, actual possession can be demonstrated by using the property as any ordinary owner would with a similar property. Hostile occupation is averse to the land owner’s interests and without permission; “hostile” does not mean that the one in possession has to have an evil intent, ill will, or desire to injure the title owner. The possessor must also hold a constant and uninterrupted possession of the property. In Arizona to interrupt the possession the title owner must prevent the possession from continuing by preventing the physical use of the land or start legal action. Verbal protests do not interrupt adverse possession. Depending on the type of adverse possession the time limits vary from 2 to 10 years and action must be taken before the time limit is reached.

When an adverse claim is brought onto a property or a property is being possessed by a non-title holder, proper legal representation is essential. An attorney well versed in real estate and property law can make the difference in how far the matter goes. Time matters so do not let issues go unresolved take the necessary actions to retain counsel and get a better understanding of the situation developing. Whether taking possession or reclaiming property an attorney’s legal advise will be a key factor in court proceedings and ultimately the Courts ruling. Squatters, neighbors, random unknown intruders and title owners can all try and lay a claim so call West, Longenbaugh & Zickerman P.L.L.C. so that we can provide you with the means to prevent and protect the property in question.