Adverse possession is a legal guideline when someone obtains the title of another person’s property or land. Elements of Adverse Possession and their Rules differ by jurisdiction. But usually, somebody can claim adverse possession after they’ve taken up residence on or have uninterrupted ownership of a piece of property for a definite amount of time.

In this blog, we help you learn more about what is adverse possession, the legal norms for that classification, and how it could affect you as a property owner.

What is adverse possession in real estate?

Adverse possession endows possession of land to someone apart from the owner if that person inhabits it for longer than the order of limits for that jurisdiction. Adverse Possession is a strange law where someone occupies property without permission. Also, then acquires a legal right to that property once a set amount of time has passed.

What are the 5 requirements for Adverse Possession?

The requirements for asserting an adverse possession claim vary from state to state, but there are two main reasons why these requirements exist.

  • The first reason is to give the rightful owner of the property a chance to stop the adverse possessor from taking over through several different methods.
  • The second justification is that adverse possession allows for the property to be put to good use instead of sitting unoccupied and undeveloped.

Understanding the requirements is crucial for individuals seeking to claim ownership of property through statutory ownership. To address the query, “What are the 5 requirements for adverse possession”, a legal concept in real estate, entails five essential conditions:

  1. Open and Public: Adverse possessors must be using the property openly and notoriously. This means that the user cannot be hidden from view. This would allow the true owner to see the use and stop it. If the adverse possessor’s use is happening in secret, the owner may not learn of it until it’s too late to assert their own rights.
  2. Hostility Claim: The claim of someone who uses adverse possession must be against the owner’s use of the land. This means that the adverse possessor may not make an adverse possession claim if the owner permitted them to use the land.
  3. Continuous Possession: To qualify for adverse possession in New York, the trespasser must have had exclusive and continuous possession of the land for at least ten years. This means that they cannot have left the land for any significant periods during those ten years.
  4. Actual Possession: The individual must physically occupy the property and use it as a true owner would. Mere intentions or occasional use are usually insufficient; there must be tangible occupation.
  5. Exclusive Possession: The possession must be exclusive to the adverse possessor and not shared with the true owner or others who also claim ownership rights. Joint use with the owner typically doesn’t qualify.

Also, one additional requirement is Time Period.  All states have a time limit in which the adverse possessor must use the land before it officially becomes theirs. In New York, the law requires that land must be used for a minimum of ten years before the adverse possessor gains title to the property.

How to Prevent Adverse Possession?

  1. Regular Property Checks: Conduct regular inspections of your property to identify any unauthorized use or occupation. Attention is key to catching potential adverse possessors early on.
  2. Maintain Clear Boundaries: Mark your property boundaries with fences, walls, or signs. This helps to establish the limits of your property and discourages encroachment by others.
  3. Document Property Use: Keep detailed records of your property use, including maintenance activities, improvements, and any notices sent to potential encroachers. This documentation can serve as evidence of your active ownership.
  4. Communication with Neighbors: Encourage open dialogue with neighboring landowners to resolve boundary concerns promptly, preventing potential misunderstandings that could result in occupancy claims.
  5. Regular Property Use: Not only consistently utilize but also maintain your property according to ownership rights. Active involvement with your land strengthens your ownership claim also minimizes the chance of others claiming encroachment.
  6. Legal Action When Necessary: If you discover unauthorized use of your property, swiftly pursue legal steps to resolve it. This could mean issuing warnings, bargaining boundary agreements, or taking legal action such as eviction or trespassing charges.
  7. Monitor Legal Deadlines: Stay informed not only about the legal timeframe for prescriptive rights in your area but also the act ahead of time to avoid it. Consistently monitor your property and promptly address any potential claims to safeguard your ownership rights.

How to prevent Adverse Possession?

In What Way Does It Work?

Adverse possession is when a non-owner/trespasser/squatter inhabits real property deprived of consent. The owner must attempt to do away with them during the ruling of limitations period; otherwise, the person obligating the possession could possibly take legal ownership. However, for there to be adverse possession, each of the following criteria must be met

  1. Exclusive and continuous: The possessor has to have persisted on the property uninterruptedly, without others inhabiting it as well.
  2. Actual possession: The person must tangibly inhabit the property, not just mention that they want to control it.
  3. Hostile possession: The possessor, by inhabiting the property, is trespassing on the original owner’s rights without consent.
  4. Open and notorious possession: The possessor is not nagging onto the property. Not only they are amenably living there in a way an owner would, but also their occupation should be evident to any outside observer.

How to File for Adverse Possession

It’s crucial to understand the laws as well as procedures governing squatter’s rights in the relevant area and possibly seek legal advice to ensure compliance and increase the chances of a successful claim. Here’s what you should know about how to file for adverse possession:

  • Consult with a real estate attorney: An attorney can assess your situation, determine if you meet the requirements for statutory occupancy in your specific jurisdiction, and guide you through the filing process.
  • Gather evidence: You will also need documentation to prove you meet the five requirements for a claim of right. This might include things like property tax bills addressed to you, receipts for repairs or improvements made to the property, and affidavits from witnesses who can verify your exclusive and continuous use of the land.
  • File a lawsuit: With your attorney’s help, you’ll need to file a case against the legal owner of the property. This case will initiate the legal process of claiming ownership through prescriptive rights.

Examples of Adverse Possession

Adverse possession can take place in a couple of ways.

  • First, adverse possession could be granted to someone who purposely occupies property that doesn’t belong to them. Such as a trespasser or a squatter, who lives there for a long period of time. This may take place in the case of an absentee owner not checking on the property. If enough time passes per the state’s law, the title is transferred to the trespasser.
  • The sum of time necessary to inhabit a property before initiating the its process differs by state and local law, usually taking more than a few years.
  • Somebody could meet the requirements for adverse possession in as little as two years in Maricopa County, Arizona. Even though it’s more likely to see longer periods, for instance, 10 years in New York.
  • In another mundane example of it, somebody such as a neighbor intrudes on a rightful owner’s property. For example, a neighbor may construct a garage or build a fence that crosses a property line. This at times is done unintentionally, but it could result in adverse possession. It’ll happen if the infringement occurred for long enough.

You can also go through the Laws of Adverse Possession of New York, to know more.

What Is the Time Limit on Adverse Possession?

The time limit for adverse possession, also known as the statutory period. It is the critical duration someone must occupy another’s property to claim ownership through squatter’s right. Also, it’s a key factor and varies depending on your location. Here’s a breakdown:

  • No Single Time Limit: There’s no one-size-fits-all time limit across different countries or even states within a country.
  • Range: The statutory period typically ranges from 3 years to 30 years.

Who Can Claim it?

In general, anyone who meets the legal requirements for encroachment can claim ownership of another’s property after a specific period. However, there are some limitations and exceptions to consider:

  1. Individuals: Any individual can potentially claim possessory title if they meet the requirements.
  2. Government Entities: In some cases, government entities like municipalities or states might be able to claim statutory ownership, but the rules may differ.
  3. Successors and Heirs: The rights to an adverse occupancy claim can sometimes pass to successors or heirs of the original possessor if they continue meeting the requirements.

Difference between Adverse Possession and Homesteading

AspectAdverse PossessionHomesteading
Legal BasisBased on occupancy without the owner’s permissionBased on government grants or laws
IntentDoes not require permission or intent to ownRequires intention to establish ownership
Ownership TransferAcquired by continuous use without owner’s consentAcquired through government grant or specific laws
DurationThe statutory period of occupation varies by jurisdictionTypically involves a fixed period of residency
PurposeOften occurs unintentionally or through negligenceIntentionally seeks to establish ownership and settle
RequirementsContinuous, hostile, open, exclusive, and notorious possessionCompliance with government regulations and residency
ExamplesSquatting on unused land without permissionSettling on public land under homesteading laws

Bottom Line

Adverse possession can result in a legal headache for a property owner, but there are means to escape it. The best constraint for illegal inhabitants is to keep consistent tabs on a property. Ensure that there is a lock on everything and is fence-proof.

If the owner grants written permission to trespass on their property, then it would not be adverse possession. Still, be careful that permitting a neighbor to build on and/or encroaching on your land. They could cause problems if and when you try to sell.

Should you find yourself in a situation in which someone is on the verge of qualifying for adverse possession, hire an attorney to assist you in filing a lawsuit to remove the party and/or reclaim the property. Additionally, refer experts from Elite Properties who can assist you in making the right decision. We are a cash buying company that suggests we provide fast closings. Call us at 718-557-9261 today.


1. How many years is adverse possession in NY?

Adverse possession in New York requires a continuous occupation of at least ten years to establish a claim to ownership of property. This duration is subject to specific legal requirements outlined by New York state law.

2. Can adverse possession be challenged?

Yes, it can be challenged through legal means. Such as filing a lawsuit to dispute the adverse possessor’s claim to the property. Challenges may involve proving that the holder neither meet all the necessary legal requirements nor demonstrating continued ownership and control of the property by the original owner.

3. What are the 5 main elements to obtain an adverse possession of a property?

The five main elements to obtain adverse possession of a property include continuous and uninterrupted possession, open and notorious use, hostile or adverse occupancy without permission, exclusive possession, as well as the statutory period of occupation, which varies by jurisdiction.

4. Does adverse possession apply to new owners?

Adverse possession laws can apply to new owners if the conditions are met. Regardless of whether they acquired the property through purchase or inheritance. However, new owners may have legal recourse to challenge claims if they can demonstrate continued ownership and control of the property.

5. What are two options to avoid adverse possession?

To avoid adverse possession, property owners not only regularly monitor their land but also address any unauthorized occupation promptly. Additionally, maintaining clear boundaries and actively using the property. Also, this can help prevent hostile possession claims from arising.

6. What is the shortest time for it?

The shortest time for it varies by jurisdiction but typically ranges from a few years to several years. However, not only specific legal requirements but also the conditions must still be met within this timeframe for encroachment to be established.

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