Posted on: 9 March 2016Share
Did you know a trespasser who has possessed your property for a long time can get a valid (legal) title to your property? This is known as the law of adverse possession, and its best prevented by keeping trespassers away from your land. Here are a few measures to help you keep trespassers away and avoid losing your land via adverse possession laws:
Put Up Warning Signs
One of the excuses used by trespassers is that they didn't know it was wrong or that they were unwelcome. To prevent such defenses, put up clear "No Trespassing" signs; focus on the outside boundaries of your property so potential trespassers can see them. This may not help you in court, but it will deter potential trespassers intending to use the excuse.
Rent the Property for a Minimal Fee
One of the requirements for using adverse possession to get a valid title to property is that it must be a hostile possession. This means the trespasser must be on your property without your permission. You can easily deny a trespasser this condition by offering to rent them the property for a nominal fee. When you sign the rental contract, the trespasser's possession of your land immediately ceases to be hostile, and they can't use adverse possession to claim the land.
Permit the Trespasser Use of the Property
This works because, just like renting out the property, you preempt the hostile possession clause that a trespasser must meet to execute an adverse possession of the property. So when you find a homeless person sleeping on your property, you can give them your blessings so that they won't use adverse possession to acquire the property. Have somebody witness you giving the trespasser your permission to use the property so you can prove your point in court if the issue is later disputed.
You don't have to go through all the above processes if you don't want trespassers on your property. There are legal channels to follow for evicting people from your property; you can't use self-help eviction methods such as physically removing the trespassers from your property. Start this process as soon as possible because the longer the trespasser stays on the property, the stronger their claim for it will be. For a trespasser who has just come onto your property, you can usually call the police to evict them. However, it's advisable to hire a lawyer to evict someone who has been on your property for some time.
Real estate laws tend to be complicated, and cases can drag on for a long time. Therefore, preempt all these difficulties by keeping unwanted persons consult a real estate attorney, like Jack W Hanemann, P.S., if you have further questions on adverse possession or the legal rights of trespassers.