It’s a nightmare scenario – someone else takes possession of your property without your permission. It sounds like something that could never happen in Texas.
However, due to adverse possession laws, it’s exactly something that could happen. Knowing the details of the law can help you protect your rights and property from invasive claims.
How adverse possession can occur
Some may refer to aversion possession as “squatter’s rights.” It’s a legal concept that allows someone who occupies or uses another person’s property for an extended time to claim legal ownership of that property under the following conditions:
- The trespassing individual must enter the property without the owner’s permission.
- They must physically occupy the land and treat it as their own.
- They must use the land in an open and obvious way so that if the true owner were paying attention, they would be aware of the situation.
- The individual must have exclusive possession of the property and not share it with the owner or the public.
Texas also has different periods for claiming the property:
1. The three-year rule states if the individual “peaceably and adversely” possesses the land under title or what appears to be a title for three consecutive years, they can claim the property.
2. According to the five-year rule, the person must cultivate, use, or enjoy the land, pay taxes for five consecutive years, and claim it under a duly registered deed.
3. For the ten-year rule, the individual doesn’t need to cultivate or pay taxes on the property. They only need to possess it for ten years to lay claim to it.
4. Under the twenty-five-year rule, if the actual property owner has a disability, is a minor or is mentally incapacitated, the person using the property can claim ownership after twenty-five years.
Adverse possession can apply to multiple situations, but a common one is when someone builds over the property line and continues to use that property as their own. Therefore, it’s important to understand the law and protect your property rights.