Many people think owning a home guarantees uninterrupted possession of the property. Yet, in some states a complete stranger can get title to a property without the owner's consent. Adverse possession allows a trespasser to obtain ownership of land under certain circumstances. Here, we'll take a brief look at Utah's version of the law.
A Brief Overview of Adverse Possession
The legal doctrine of adverse possession is an age-old concept in property law. It's purpose is to make sure that owners stay involved with their properties in one form or another. In a sense, it prevents property from being completely abandoned by an owner. The underlying intent of the law is to promote active land use.
A Closer Look at the Elements
To have a successful claim of adverse possession (and obtain title to the property) certain requirements must be met. Sections 78B-2-208 to 219 of the Utah code discuss these requirements in detail.
First, use of the land must be actual. This means that the trespasser must be physically present on the property. Alternatively, it could mean that the trespasser is actively making changes to the property as if he or she were the owner.
Second, use of the property must be open and notorious . In other words, it is obvious to anyone viewing the property that someone is using the land. For example, the trespasser might erect a fence around the property.
Third, use of the property must be exclusive. The trespasser must be the sole user of the property. He or she must prevent others from interfering with the use.
Fourth, the trespasser must maintain a continuous presence. In Utah, the trespasser must remain in possession for seven years. The trespasser cannot simply stop using the land and then claim ownership after seven years. There must be unbroken chain of use.
Finally, use of the land must be "hostile." Basically, the trespasser must use the land in a manner that is contrary to the owner's interests.
Utah also requires the trespasser to pay property taxes for the seven year period. A trespasser may also have to perform additional acts on the land depending on whether claim of title is based on a document. A real estate lawyer is the best source of information for further clarification of the law.
If a trespasser is able to establish the above elements, he or she could obtain title to your property! If you are in a situation involving adverse possession, contact a real estate attorney at Spencer and Jensen, LLC. Attorneys at the Sandy law office can assist you today. Call 801-566-1884 as soon as you notice activity resembling adverse possession.