If you believe your property is at risk from adverse possession, or if you’re making an adverse possession property claim, arrange to discuss the matter at once with an Orlando adverse possession attorney.
What is adverse possession? It’s a legal concept that allows someone to gain title over a property owner’s land and become the owner. It means that a neighbor, or even a stranger, can squat on your property and develop a legal ownership claim.
How does adverse possession work in Florida? What should property owners know, and how can they avoid losing property to adverse possession? What should you know if you are making a claim to property under adverse possession? Keep reading for the answers to these questions.
How Does Adverse Possession Work?
Adverse possession can happen unintentionally or intentionally. When it’s intentional, a squatter or trespasser – a person occupying someone else’s land, illegally at first – does so to reside on the land or to take possession of it.
Other cases are unintentional. For instance, if a homeowner builds a fence that unintentionally encroaches on a neighbor’s property line, after a time, the homeowner may be able to claim adverse possession of the encroached land.
A claimant who prevails with an adverse possession claim is not required by Florida law to compensate the original owner for the property.
How Does Someone Prove an Adverse Possession Claim?
In Florida, whoever holds the legal title to land is assumed to be its owner until an adverse possession claimant can prove that a court should grant the title of the land to that claimant.
Standard adverse possession in this state is called “without color of title.” A successful adverse possession claim requires a claimant’s possession of the property to be:
- hostile (there is no easement, lease, or rent agreement)
- actual (in practical control of the land)
- exclusive (only the claimant controls the land and claims it)
- openly visible and notorious (using the land openly, without hiding the occupancy)
- continuous for the statutory period (in Florida, seven years)
Additionally, the land has been maintained, cultivated, improved, or protected by a substantial enclosure. The claimant also must have paid any outstanding special improvement liens and taxes on the land within a year of assuming possession.
What Else Should a Property Owner Know About Adverse Possession?
Florida law gives property owners extensive protection against adverse possession. The requirements for succeeding with an adverse possession claim in this state are almost impossible for a claimant to meet.
If you find someone is encroaching on your property in central Florida, it’s probably a mistake. Politely asking that person to leave is the first step. (Alternately, you could offer to rent the land and ask that person to sign a lease). If that fails, put your demand to leave the property in writing.
If that fails, ask an Orlando adverse possession attorney to seek help from the courts on your behalf. You may need to bring a lawsuit to remove the person, or you may need to obtain a court order to remove a structure off your property.
If you’re a property owner dealing with the possibility of adverse possession, or if you want to make an adverse possession claim, speak first with Florida real estate attorneys from our law firm. You can reach our offices in Orlando by calling 407-426-7222.