Adverse Possession and Permission to Use the Property

Adverse Possession and Permission to Use the Property

Updated on January 10, 2022

Can someone who occupies a property file for adverse possession if they know the property owner? What if you have permission to use the property?

Adverse possession seems to be a particularly unusual legal right. In simple terms, it provides that a person who does not have legal title to a property can obtain title if they meet certain very strict requirements. Is one of those requirements knowing the owner or having permission to use the property? The requirements are discussed below.

Requirements for Adverse Possession

In California, the five requirements to obtain legal title by way of adverse possession include:

  1. A claim of right or color of title (assert ownership despite having no purchase documents, or may have some sort of title document that shows they might be the owner)
  2. Actual Open and Notorious Possession
  3. Hostile Possession (without permission)
  4. Continuous Possession – meeting all the elements for a period of 5 years
  5. Timely Payment of Property Taxes for 5 years
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Can you File for Adverse Possession If You Have Permission to Use the Property?

As you can see, there is no requirement that the property owner must be a stranger. In fact, you may know the property owner or the property owner may know you. That is not an issue. However, what may arise as an issue is if you know the property owner and as a result they gave you permission to use their property.

In other words, if the true owner has knowledge that you have been using their land and the owner has given you permission to use their land, you will have a difficult time proving the hostile requirement. If you are using the land with permission, it will be challenging to make a valid claim of adverse possession.

As a result, if you know that someone is using your property you can prevent them from claiming adverse possession by simply sending them a letter or otherwise documenting permission (before five years have passed) to break up the five year period needed for adverse possession.

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The law also provides other ways to prove that the possession was not adverse.    Please keep in mind, if you do not have permission and are trying to adversely possess a property, you may be trespassing until the expiration fo the 5 year period associated with adverse possession.   Moreover, there are different and sometimes more difficult standards when adversely possessing a property from a co-tenant or an estate.

It is always best for you to contact an experienced Real Estate Attorney California, before taking any actions on your own. If you think you have already adversely possessed a property, contact us today at (310) 954-1877, or [email protected]. You can also use our Contact Form and send us a message.