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Adverse Possession Sickens Me

LandGrabberI just read a very disturbing article posted on the Florida Realtors’ site. It is about an act known as adverse possession. Here is the mighty wiki’s definition of adverse possession. I call it stealing….albeit legally.

Basically a person can lose their land if someone else has prolonged, uncontested use of it.

I won’t explain how adverse possession can happen. The article above explains it fully. It uses a sit-up-and-take-notice case out of Colorado. The fact that the people who “adversely possessed” (legally stole) the land are two professional, educated adults is what sickens me. The fact that our laws allow this to happen completely throws me over the edge.

Here were property owners who paid their taxes and association dues on the land they purchased just 200 yards from their home while their neighbors walked their dogs on their land and later used this fact to lay a claim to the land…and win! What is wrong with this picture?

In Florida 7 years of uncontested use must take place before a person can lay claim to someone else’s land by means of adverse possession. How can you protect your property? I am no attorney and you should certainly consult one if you need specifics, but this is what seems to be appropriate:

  • Fence the property to prevent others from being able to use it.
  • Post No Trespassing signs on the property.
  • If you don’t want to incur the expense of fencing or just want to be neighborly, you can provide written permission to someone to use the land (they can’t claim adverse possession if you’re allowing them to use it).

There you have it. Use it or lose it.

I “borrowed” the illustration from LandGrabber.org It expresses the point so succinctly. Please visit them for more information on this case.

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These articles are not intended to give legal or tax advice, and you should consult your attorney or financial advisor for additional information.

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