How Long Does it Take to Get Adverse Possession in Texas?
It varies depending on the trespasser’s actionsBy Doug Mentes, Esq. | Last updated on January 27, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- How Long Must Trespasser Possess the Land
- How Does Someone Adversely Possess the Land of Another?
- Experienced Legal Help Necessary
How Long Must Trespasser Possess the LandThe default period for adverse possession in Texas is a decade—referred to as a 10-year statute of limitations. That means the true owner of the property has up to 10 years to oust the adverse possessor or terminate their possession. Shorter statutes of limitations apply under the following circumstances:
- Three-year statute of limitation if the adverse possessor has some written documented proof of legal title—like a hard copy of an original registered deed (but clearly mistaken)—giving them title to the property § 16.024 Texas Code
- Five-year statute of limitations period if the adverse possessor cultivates, uses or enjoys the land, pays applicable property taxes and again has document proof of title § 16.025 Texas Code
How Does Someone Adversely Possess the Land of Another?Under Texas law, to acquire title to property by adverse possession, a person must prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence—meaning the evidence is more likely than not:
- visible appropriation and possession of the property. The adverse possessor must use the land in a way that would give notice to others, especially the owner, that the adverse possessor believes they are the true owner.
- that is open and notorious—meaning you can’t hide your use; it must be out in the open
- under a claim of right—for example an erroneous property survey
- that is adverse and hostile to the claim of the owner—meaning the adverse possessor can’t have the permission of the actual owner to use the property. For example, sharing the land with the owner or being a tenant of the owner
- that is consistent and continuous for the duration of the statutory period—meaning the statute of limitations may reset if the adverse possessor changes conduct in some way that appears as a break in possession
Experienced Legal Help NecessaryAs simple as the factors seem for proving an adverse possession claim, or defending against one, there are many areas a property owner can make a mistake. Mistakes in real estate are obviously costly. An error could diminish the use, value or enjoyment of home, business, farm, or recreational property. Property owners on either side of a potential adverse possession claim should talk to a law firm or an experienced Texas real estate attorney as early in the process as possible. A Texas real estate lawyer may provide legal advice about how to clear a color of title for a claim of adverse possession. For more information on this area, check out our overview of real estate laws.
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