Adverse Possession California

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“If you’re looking for a home to buy, California has one of the largest real estate markets in the country. The adverse possession doctrine states that someone can legally take possession of a property if they live there long enough. But regardless of where someone chooses to build a home, other people will probably be around the area.”

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Adverse Possession California

If a person pays taxes and stays at the property for a certain period, Adverse Possession California laws allow them to claim ownership.


California’s Adverse Possession Law

Someone who meets specific legal requirements does so when they take possession of another person’s property without their permission.

To claim adverse possession in Los Angeles, California, the claimant must show that they had continuous and exclusive ownership of the property for at least five years, openly and notoriously, under the claim that they possessed the property legally or with the belief that they had the right.


Hostile to the rightful owner’s interest

Furthermore, the possessor must be hostile to the rightful owner’s interest in the property, and the rightful owner must have known or should have known about the possession.

Under certain exceptions and defenses, a person who possesses the property through adverse possession may acquire legal ownership of it. If you have questions about your property rights or face an adverse possession claim, consult an experienced real estate attorney.


What is an example of adverse possession?

A legal principle called adverse possession allows someone to claim ownership over land if certain conditions are met. A person who occupies land without permission for some time and in an open, continuous manner could be considered an adverse possession. 

The occupier could claim legal ownership if the owner fails to take legal action within the specified period to remove them. Each jurisdiction has specific laws and requirements about adverse possession.


Adverse possession real estate

Adverse possession, a legal concept, allows a person to own land that belongs to someone else as long as they meet specific requirements. These requirements usually include occupying, maintaining, and improving a property that belongs to someone else.


What is adverse possession in real estate?

Adverse possession differs from easements in which the property owner explicitly grants someone else certain rights, such as permission to use their driveway. In general, for someone to be in adverse possession of a property, they must use it without the owner’s consent.

It’s only sometimes malicious. Possession in real estate can occur unintentionally. If a neighbor accidentally builds a fence on your property and then uses the land surrounded by the wall, and you don’t stop them from doing so, they could claim adverse possession. If a neighbor accidentally crosses the property line and maintains it for a certain period, then they could be able to claim adverse possession.


Are There Any Requirements For Adverse Possession?

Adverse possession requires the following five requirements to establish a title:


The right to claim or the color of the title

An adverse possessor must hold possession under either a claim of right or color of title.

  1. Attempt to transfer title to the possessor through a defective document (“color of title”) but fail to do so
  2. If the possessor intends to claim the property’s title, they must occupy it.

To acquire property, you must demonstrate that you intend to make it your own.


Open, actual, and notoriety

It is necessary to occupy the premises in a way that gives the record owner reasonable notice. To constitute an “actual, open, and notorious occupation.” In 1890, one court ruled that the adverse possessor must “fly his flag over the land so the owner might see if he chooses, that an enemy has invaded the land and planted the standard of conquest.”



This isn’t an invitation for the adverse claimants to engage in a boxing match since the occupation must be exclusive and hostile to the valid owner’s title.

As part of the requirements for a hostile and exclusive occupation, it must not have the owner’s permission or recognize any of the owner’s rights, and it must not recognize any of those rights. During the specified period, the adverse possessor must be the only one using the property.


Possession on an ongoing basis

An adverse possessor must possess the property continuously and uninterruptedly for at least five years. As soon as the adverse possessor invades, the clock begins to run. The clock stops if the valid owner returns possession, records notice, or files a quiet title action.


Comply with all tax laws.

The possessor is responsible for paying the property’s taxes for five years. An adverse possessor may file a declaration with the county assessor to appear on the property’s tax assessment roll. Otherwise, this element will not be satisfied if she doesn’t pay all taxes before the valid owner pays them.


Aspects to consider

Adverse possessors must file an action for quiet title and have their title recorded once all of the elements of adverse possession are present. Prior owners or their successors have the right to establish title against adverse possessors until the title appears in public records.


How to file for adverse Possession in California?

The concept of adverse possession is a confusing legal term that has significant implications for property law. Adverse possession is acquiring property rights by occupying another’s land continuously and infamously. It may seem controversial, but adverse possession is essential for maintaining land ownership stability and resolving disputes.

Adverse ownership originated in ancient times when societies understood the importance of land and how it should be used. Over time, the idea of adverse possession has developed into a structured legal principle that includes specific requirements for a successful claim.

To file for adverse possession in California, you must meet certain legal criteria and adhere to a specific process.

  1. In California, this is usually five years.
  2. Pay property taxes during the occupancy period.
  3. After the period of continuous ownership (typically five years in California), you can file a claim or action to quiet the title at the superior court in the county. This legal action is the first step in claiming adverse possession.
  4. You must show that you have met all adverse possession conditions.
  5. If you meet all the legal requirements, the court may grant legal ownership to you through adverse possession.

Adverse possession cases are complex and can involve many legal complexities. It is recommended that you consult with a California real estate lawyer with experience in California property law to ensure the legal aspects of your case are handled correctly.


Do You Own Property In The Country’s Largest City?

When someone infringes on your property, it is essential to know your rights. It could be a neighbor, a stranger, a trespasser, or a tenant taking your land. Attorney Real Estate Group can help you avoid having your property taken over by an interested party. It is common for property owners to be unsure of their property rights.

When you take possession of your property for some time, reside there for that period, and then make a legal claim for ownership afterward, you may be liable for adverse possession.


How Do You Determine What Constitutes An Adverse Possession?

It can seem as though adverse possession is stealing land or granting settlers a place to live, depending on one’s perspective. In adverse possession, a person, for example, a settler who finds a home to live in, can knowingly trespass on a property, start living there, pay taxes, and maintain its condition.

The squatter will own the property after five years if they pay the taxes. For adverse possession claims to be successful, there are four requirements:

  • Claims of hostility
  • Possession in actuality
  • Possession of open and notoriety
  • Possession exclusive and continuous

To meet these requirements, the holder must live in the house for at least five years, pay the property’s taxes, and maintain it properly. In addition, settlers cannot hide in a home or secretly live there, so there can be no adverse possession claim. They cannot share the land with anyone else and must keep it to themselves.


How Do California’s Adverse Possession Rules Work?

It’s common for people to acquire property by purchasing it or inheriting it. However, some individuals aren’t able to do so. Instead, they may pick up a vacant plot or even an unoccupied house.


How Do California’s Adverse Possession Rules Work?


A property owner can potentially lose their property if someone occupies or uses it without permission for a long enough time without fighting back.

A settler or non-owner can take possession of a property that once belonged to someone else under adverse possession. How does adverse possession in California work?


For years, the claimant has had to live openly on the property.

The settler or non-owner occupant must openly take possession of a property and begin using it to prove adverse possession. Only after five years of occupation is an adverse possession claim possible. Moreover, the occupants of the land must not only live on it but also pay taxes on it.

If the occupying individual has stayed at the property for five years and paid taxes, they could go to court to get the property back. Those timeframes go up to twenty years if the record owner of the property has a medical disability.

Property owners must inspect their properties regularly and evict any occupants without permission timely when adverse possession claims arise. Knowing more about California real estate laws can help you protect your investment.


Adverse Possession: Who Can Claim It?

A trespasser in California can become the owner of all or part of a landowner’s property after five years and payment of property taxes.

A booming real estate market is present in the major cities and the rural areas of California, the most populous state in the country. You probably have two or three neighbors around your property, regardless of whether you live in a townhouse in San Francisco or a large suburban home outside Los Angeles. As a result of adverse possession, these neighbors may be able to take possession of some of your property under California law.


Trespassers can acquire ownership.

Trespassers can acquire ownership of land through adverse possession if the valid owner does not object within a particular period and if they pay faithful property taxes.

Monitoring your property lines to ensure your land stays yours makes sense. In either case, you must learn about California’s adverse possession laws if you ever intend to assert an adverse possession claim.


California Adverse Possession Claim: When Can It Be Used?

You must prove certain elements to take adverse possession of a property in California. Trespassers in California must comply with the following requirements:

  • The claims of right of title should either state ownership despite the lack of purchase documentation or show a title document that asserts ownership.
  • Be notorious and open, letting others believe you are the owner and using the property as if you were the owner.
  • A hostile act or a violation of the rightful owner’s rights.
  • Taking care of the property through upgrades and other maintenance involves having actual control over it.
  • In California, continuous service must last five years.
  • Ensure that they pay all five years’ property taxes.

The burden of proof falls on the individual interested in the property in California. It is the legal owner’s presumption of ownership until proven otherwise; the adverse possessor must prove the six elements listed above to a judge.


Is It Possible To Use A Quiet Title Action?

It is essential to contact a lawyer when there is a dispute over the ownership of the property or a trespasser has entered your property. This process could have a judge declare that you are the rightful owner.

The State of California, local governments, and state-owned properties are all protected from legal claims of adverse possession.


Is There A Reason Why Adverse Possession Claims Exist?

In local governments and cities, adverse possession occurs when a piece of land is left untouched or uncared for. Squatters would rather live in a home than an empty home because it becomes a waste in the community. The homeowner can become a legal owner if they move into the home and become productive.

In Roman times, adverse possession laws changed, allowing a person to legally own land if they didn’t get kicked out by the rightful owner. Today, the idea that land is unalienable by theft remains prevalent throughout Europe.


Is Adverse Possession Permissible If There Is A Squatter On My Property?

It is your first choice to go to the home of settlers living illegally on your property and tell them to leave. Identify the property title with your name on it. If there is an error, the settlers should leave the property. If they continue to occupy the property, you should contact a lawyer.

The lawyer will seek to reclaim your land from the settlers. It would not be possible for the police to kick out the settlers if they were paying household bills.


California Squatters: How to Protect Yourself

Those who occupy a property without owning, renting, or having permission to occupy it legally are considered squatters. There are rights for squatters in California; they can acquire your property by adverse possession. So you need to know your rights and protect them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Be sure to pay your taxes on time.
  • Keep the entire rental property in good order.
  • Make sure that the lease doesn’t prohibit subletting.
  • If you cannot supervise your property, consider hiring an agent to manage your property.
  • A solid security system is an absolute requirement for every property.


Adverse Possession Cases in California

It is considered adverse possession in California, meaning someone who wants to claim another’s property must use it for at least five years and pay property taxes.


Dimmick v Dimmick 58 Cal.

@d 417,421, 424 Cal.Rptr. 856 374 p. 2d. 824 (1962) Property was deeded to three sons, but only one farmed the land. In this case, the son sued for quiet title. The trial court found they had joined tenants, and the appeals court affirmed that ruling.


In James v. LeDelt 228 Cal.

App. 2d 474, 489 (1964), the plaintiff sought the removal of a cabin from a 400-foot wide area. According to the trial court, the plaintiff had no rights, interests, or title to the disputed tract based on an agreed boundary, adverse possession, estoppel, and laches.


In Madden V. Alpha Hardware & Supply Co.

128 Cal. App 2d 72, 75, (1954), the plaintiff states he had possessed the property for twenty years while paying taxes over ten years.


Is Attorney Real Estate Group Able To Assist You?

At Attorney Real Estate Group, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help litigants understand adverse possession and the law surrounding it. Each case is different, so litigants should seek knowledgeable counsel about adverse possession. You may contact our office anytime if you wish to assert an adverse possession claim, are concerned about gaining title through adverse possession, or simply have questions.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...

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