Adverse Possession: What It Means and How To Resolve Disputes

real estate attorneys Los AngelesOne of the most bizarre real estate law cases in America is called adverse possession, but it is known conventionally as squatters rights. Each state takes a different approach to handling this odd legal quandary, and resolving the issue almost always requires the help of a real estate lawyer. If you believe you have the rights to a property, but someone has moved in without informing you or paying for the right to live there, you must contact your real estate attorney immediately.

What is adverse possession?
If you’ve ever lent someone $5 and they promised to pay you back, but you forgot about the loan for a few years, do they still owe you the money? This, of course, has more to do with your personal opinion and how badly you need the five dollars, but more often than not you won’t care (if you even remembered the loan in the first place). This is because the statute of limitations on $5 dollar loans has a very short social duration.

Now, adverse possession works similarly. Imagine two people, for whatever reason, forgot that they own a home in California. One day someone realizes that this house is empty, and has been for a long time. This person decides to move in. After living there for some time, the owners realize that they have an extra house in California and show up on the squatter’s doorstep. Who owns the house?

Legal Ownership
There are two ways a property owner can have their house claimed due to lack of occupancy in California. First, the government can “escheat” a property that has remained unclaimed or where the legal owner cannot be found after three years of being abandoned, according to title 10 of the California civil procedures code. The other way a property can transfer ownership is if somebody lives at your home for five years while paying property tax each of those years.

These real estate law cases can be quite tricky to work around, which is why you need attorneys to handle your property rights dispute. Contact us today and we’ll see how best we can help you resolve this real estate ownership situation.