texas adverse possession attorneys


What is Adverse Possession in Texas?

Adverse possession refers to the lawful acquisition of ownership of property that is not originally owned. The statute governing adverse possession is defined in the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code, Section 16.021, et seq. According to the Code, adverse possession requires an “actual and visible appropriation of real property, commenced and continued under a claim of right that is inconsistent with and is hostile to the claim of another person.” The court must determine whether the property was possessed openly, continuously for the statutory period, and exclusively with a claim of right adverse to all others.

Examples of Adverse Possession in Texas

1. Unfenced property: If a person openly uses a property that is unfenced and not marked as private property, they may be able to gain ownership through adverse possession after a certain amount of time has passed.

2. Use of a neighbor’s land: If a person builds a structure or uses a portion of their neighbor’s land for an extended period of time, they may be able to claim adverse possession if their use is continuous, open, and obvious.

3. Abandoned property: If a property has been abandoned by its owner, and another person takes possession and uses it openly, they may be able to claim adverse possession after a certain amount of time has passed.

4. Error in property line: If a person builds a structure on a property that they believe to be their own, but it turns out that the structure is partially on someone else’s property, they may be able to claim adverse possession of the portion of the property that they have been using.

Are there different time requirements for Adverse Possession in Texas?

Yes, under Texas law there is are different statutes for claims under 3,5,7,10, and 25 years. They are as follows:

3 year Adverse Possession:

According to the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.024 (the three-year statute), the original owner of real property must initiate legal action to recover the property held by another person in peaceable and adverse possession under title or color of title within three years from the date the cause of action arises.

The possessor must either possess a legitimate title, such as a deed that is part of a valid chain of title, or have a reasonable basis for their claim to title, referred to as “color of title.” In order to successfully assert their claim under this statute, the possessor must provide documentation, such as conveyance or title paperwork, to support their claim.

5 year Adverse Possession:

According to the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.025, commonly referred to as the five-year statute, an individual, also known as the original owner, must initiate legal action within five years of the cause of action occurring in order to reclaim real property that is being held peacefully and adversely by another person who:

(1) Utilizes the property for cultivation, use, or enjoyment;

(2) Pays the necessary taxes on the property; and

(3) Claims ownership of the property through a properly registered deed.

It is important to note that this statute does not apply to claims based on forged deeds or deeds executed under a false power of attorney. In conclusion, the five-year statute is straightforward, but it requires a legitimate deed to be in place for the claim to be valid.

10 year Adverse Possession:

According to the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.026 (also referred to as the “bare possession statute”), the following provisions apply:

(a) An individual must file a lawsuit within 10 years of the date on which the cause of action arises, in order to recover real property that is being peacefully and adversely held, cultivated, used, or enjoyed by another person.

(b) Without a title document, peaceful and adverse possession is restricted to 160 acres, including any improvements, unless the actual number of enclosed acres exceeds 160. If the enclosed acres do exceed 160, the peaceful and adverse possession applies to the actual real property that has been enclosed.

(c) Peaceful possession of real property that is held with the support of a properly registered deed or other title instrument that clearly defines the possessor’s claim, extends to the boundaries specified in the instrument.

The ten-year statute is an overarching rule. A deed or other title document is not required as long as the elements of adverse possession are satisfied.

25 year Adverse Possession:

Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Sections 16.027 and 16.028 are less frequently utilized. The former imposes a 25-year restriction, regardless of any legal impediments. The latter enables a 25-year limit based on a title document, even if the document is null and void in reality or on its face.”