Adverse possession (also known as title by prescription or prescriptive title) is a legal doctrine that creates title in real estate when a person possesses it for a certain period of time and meets other legal requirements. Title by adverse possession can take precedence over a recorded deed or title by inheritance.
In addition to possessing the property for the required period of time, a person claiming title by adverse possession has to act in a manner that gives notice that ownership of the property is being claimed and the possession must be uninterrupted. Placing a fence along the boundary of the claimed property, cultivating the property and regularly cutting timber are typical acts that can be used to support title by adverse possession. Periods of possession separated by times when others possess the property starts the clock running again on an adverse possession claim. Other and more subtle requirements must also be met before prescriptive title arises. The Land Dispute lawyers at Cannon Law, P.C. can determine if your property is subject to a claim for adverse possession and advise you as to the proper steps necessary to assert that title or protect your property against such a claim.
In North Carolina and Georgia, title by adverse possession requires possession for more than 20 years in most cases. However, if the person asserting an adverse possession claim has a deed that purports to include the property in dispute, title by adverse possession can arise after 7 years.
The term “tacking” is used to describe adding a period of adverse possession by another person to the time of possession by the claimant in order to meet the minimum time requirement. Whether tacking can be used depends on a number of factors, including the relationship between the parties and whether all of the elements of adverse possession were met by the prior claimant.
If you have property that may be subject to a claim of adverse possession it is important to meet with the Land Dispute lawyers at Cannon Law, P.C. as quickly as possible so that the statute of limitations does run against you. If you believe that you have acquired title by adverse possession, we can help you document your claim and avoid possible future litigation.