Adverse Possession


The term “adverse possession” refers to a legal principle that grants title to someone who resides on or is in possession of another person’s land. 

The property’s title is granted to the possessor as long as certain conditions are met including whether they infringe on the rights of the actual owner and whether they are in continuous possession of the property. 

Adverse possession is sometimes called ‘squatter’s rights,’ although squatter’s rights are a colloquial reference to the concept in question rather than any official law.

Key Takeaways:

  • Adverse possession is a legal situation that occurs when one party is granted title to another person’s property by taking possession of it.
  • It can happen intentionally or unintentionally, with or without the property owner’s knowledge.
  • The claimant must meet certain requirements, such as continuous possession and infringing on the rights of the actual owner.

How it Works:

Adverse possession occurs when a person takes possession of another person’s property, either intentionally or unintentionally. This can happen through actions such as living on the property, using the property, or making improvements to the property.

In cases of intentional adverse possession, a trespasser or squatter knowingly comes onto another person’s land to live on it and/or take it over. 

In cases of unintentional adverse possession, someone may accidentally encroach on their neighbor’s property line without realizing it.

To successfully claim land under adverse possession, the claimant must demonstrate that their occupation of the land meets certain requirements, such as continuous possession for a specific period of time and infringing on the rights of the actual owner.

Key Components:

  • Continuous Possession: The claimant must demonstrate that they have continuously occupied the property for a specific period of time without interruption.
  • Infringement on the Rights of the Owner: The claimant must show that their possession of the property infringes on the rights of the actual owner, such as excluding them from the property or using it as their own.


  • Potential Ownership: Adverse possession provides a legal pathway for someone to gain ownership of another person’s property if they can meet the necessary requirements.
  • Productive Use of Land: Adverse possession can free up land with unclear ownership for productive use.
  • Resolution of Boundary Disputes: In cases where property lines are unclear or disputed, adverse possession can provide a resolution by granting ownership to the party in possession.


Adverse possession is a legal principle that allows someone to gain title to another person’s property through continuous possession and infringing on the rights of the actual owner. 

It provides a pathway for resolving disputes over land ownership and can free up land for productive use, but is generally considered more favorable for squatters, not owners.

For property owners and landlords, understanding how adverse possession works is crucial to protecting their rights to the property they legally own against squatters. 

In the event a tenant or squatter attempts to claim adverse possession on a property you legally own, it’s crucial that you obtain proper legal counsel before proceeding.

Disclaimer: The information on this website, including glossary definitions, is for educational and informational purposes only and not intended as professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we make no guarantees regarding the completeness, reliability, or timeliness of the information provided. We are not liable for any loss or damage arising from your use of the site. Investment decisions in commercial real estate should be made based on individual due diligence and professional advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change; always consult legal and financial experts before making decisions.



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