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Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is the taking of title to real estate by possessing it for a certain period of time.  Title means ownership of real estate.  The person claiming title to real estate by adverse possession must have actual possession of it that is open, notorious, exclusive and adverse to the claims of other persons to the title.  By its very nature, a claim of adverse possession is hostile to the claims of other persons.  It cannot be hidden but must be open and notorious in order to put other persons on notice as to one’s claim for possession of the real estate.

A claim to title by adverse possession often must be made under color of title.  Color of title means a claim to title by way of a fact which, although on its face appears to support a person’s claim to title, is in some way defective and falls short of actually establishing title to the real estate.  An example of a claim made under color of title would be a deed whose execution was defective or is in question.  Another example is a claim arising from another person’s Last Will and Testament.  Yet another common example is where two or more persons have received separate deeds to the same parcel of real estate.

Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition.


Alabama: In Alabama, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years if the claimant and/or his predecessor has a deed or other color of title recorded at least ten (10) years, has annually listed the land for ten (10) years for taxation, or, has acquired title by descent or devise from a predecessor who had title and was in possession.  Twenty (20) years possession is necessary if the claimant does not possess the land under color of title.  Alabama Code §6-5-200.
Alaska: In Alaska, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years if the possession is under color and claim of title and ten (10) years without color of title.  Alaska Code §09.10.030; 09.25.050.
Arizona: In Arizona, two (2) years uninterrupted possession is sufficient to claim real estate by adverse possession against persons who have no better right to real estate.  To recover a real estate claim by another person by adverse possession, one must file suit within the time period specified in Arizona Code §12-523.  Arizona Code §12-521 through 528.
Arkansas: In Arkansas, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years for unimproved and unenclosed land held under color of title, and fifteen (15) years for wild and unimproved land held under color of title.  Arkansas Code §16-56-105;  18-11-102-03;  18-60-212.
California: In California, the duration of such possession is five (5) years, including payment of taxes.  California CCP §322-25.
Colorado: In Colorado, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years if the claimant claims under color of title.  If the claimant does not make his/her claim under color of title, the duration of possession is eighteen (18) years.  Colorado Code §38-41-101, 108, 109.
Connecticut: In Connecticut, the duration of such possession must be fifteen (15) years to establish title by adverse possession.  Connecticut Code §52-575.
Delaware:

In Delaware, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.  Delaware Code §10-7901, 7902.

Florida: In Florida, the duration of such possession under color of title is seven (7) years.  To claim real estate by adverse possession without color of title, a person must have possession for a period of seven (7) years and pay the assessed taxes.  Florida Code §95.16-.18.
Georgia: In Georgia, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years under color of title and twenty (20) years in other cases.  Georgia Code §44-5-163, 164.
Hawaii: In Hawaii, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years and must be in good faith.  Title by adverse possession is not applicable to real estate where title has been properly registered with the land court.  Hawaii Code §656-31, 31.5.
Idaho: In Idaho, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.   The person claiming title by adverse possession must pay taxes and assessments on real estate during the time of adverse possession.  The claimant must enclose the real estate, cultivate it, make improvements on it, or otherwise use it for its ordinary and actual purpose.  Idaho Code §5-208 through 210.
Illinois: In Illinois, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years when made under color of title and twenty (20) years otherwise.  Illinois Code §735-5/13 through 101, 107, 109, 110.
Indiana: In Indiana, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years and one must pay taxes and assessments.  Indiana Code §32-1-20-1.
Iowa: In Iowa, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years under claim of right or color of title.
Kansas: In Kansas, the duration of such possession is fifteen (15) years.  Kansas Code §60-503.
Kentucky: In Kentucky, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years if held under patent from the state and fifteen (15) years otherwise.  Kentucky Code §413.010, .050, .060.
Louisiana: In Louisiana, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years where title has been acquired in good faith and thirty (30) years in other cases.  Louisiana CC §3474, 3469.
Maine: In Maine, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.  Maine T. 14, §801, 815.
Maryland: In Maryland, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.  Maryland Courts Art. §5-103.
Massachusetts: In Massachusetts, the duration of such possession is more than twenty (20) years.  Massachusetts C. 185, §53.
Michigan: In Michigan, the duration of such possession is five (5) years if the claimant as color of title by a court deed, ten (10) years if the claimant has color of title by a tax deed, and fifteen (15) years in all other cases.  To have marketable title, the claimant also receives a court decree granting him/her quiet title.  Michigan CLA §600.5801.
Minnesota: In Minnesota, the duration of such possession is fifteen (15) years.  Title by adverse possession is not available against properly registered land.  Minnesota Code §508.02;  541.01-02.
Mississippi:

In Mississippi, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  Mississippi Code §15-1-7, 13.

Missouri:

In Missouri, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  Missouri Code §516.010-.030.

Montana: In Montana, the duration of such possession is five (5) years.   The person claiming title by adverse possession must pay taxes and assessments on real estate during the time of adverse possession.  Montana Code §70-19-405 through 411.
Nebraska:

In Nebraska, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  Nebraska Code §25-202.

Nevada: In Nevada, the duration of such possession is five (5) years.  Nevada Code §11.070-.080.
New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.  New Hampshire C. 508, §2.
New Jersey: In New Jersey, the duration of such possession is sixty (60) years for uncultivated land and thirty (30) years for other real estate.  New Jersey Code §2A-14-30.
New Mexico:

In New Mexico, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  New Mexico Code §37-1-22.

New York: In New York, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  New York Real Prop. A&P.L. §501-551.
North Carolina: In North Carolina, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years under color of title and twenty (20) years elsewhere.  North Carolina Code §1-35 through 43.
North Dakota: In North Dakota, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  The person claiming title by adverse possession must pay taxes and assessments on real estate during the time of adverse possession.  The person also must claim the real estate by a written instrument or decree, or in the alternative, protect it by substantial enclosure, or cultivate and improve it.  North Dakota Code §28-01-01 onward; 47-06-03.
Ohio: In Ohio, the duration of such possession is twenty-one (21) years.  Ohio Code §2305.04.
Oklahoma:

In Oklahoma, the duration of such possession is fifteen (15) years.  Oklahoma Code §12-93; 60-333.

Oregon: In Oregon, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  Oregon Code §105.620; 12.050.
Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania, the duration of such possession is twenty-one (21) years.  Pennsylvania Code §42-5530.
Rhode Island:

In Rhode Island, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  Rhode Island Code 34-7-1, 8.

South Carolina: In South Carolina, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.  South Carolina Code §15-67-210 through 260.
South Dakota: 

In South Dakota, the duration of such possession is twenty (20) years.  South Dakota Code §15-3-7, 10; 43-14-2.

Tennessee: In Tennessee, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years for someone claiming under color of title and twenty (20) years for someone without color of title.  Tennessee Code §28-2101 onward.
Texas:  In Texas, the duration of such possession is three (3) to twenty-five (25) years, depending upon the circumstances of the case.  Texas Civ. Prac. Rem. Code §16.021 through 16.032.
Utah: In Utah, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years.  The person claiming title by adverse possession must pay taxes and assessments on real estate during the time of adverse possession.  Utah Code §78-12-7.1 through 21.
Vermont:

In Vermont, the duration of such possession is fifteen (15) years.  Vermont Code §12-501.

Virginia: In Virginia, the duration of such possession is fifteen (15) years.  Virginia Code §8.01-236.
Washington: In Washington, the duration of such possession is seven (7) years. The person claiming title by adverse possession must pay taxes and assessments on real estate during the time of adverse possession.  Washington Code §7.28.050-.090.
West Virginia:

In West Virginia, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  West Virginia Code §55-2-1.

Wisconsin:

In Wisconsin, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years for a claim under color of title, and twenty (20) years when the claim is not under color of title.  Wisconsin Code §893.25-.33.

Wyoming: In Wyoming, the duration of such possession is ten (10) years.  Wyoming Code §1-3-103.

This is not a substitute for legal advice.  An attorney must be consulted.
Copyright © 2002-2006 by LAWCHEK, LTD

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