The doctrine of “adverse possession” is one of the most interesting in the field of real property law. It is a legal concept that allows a trespasser – occasionally a stranger, but more often a neighbor, to gain legal title over land that was once owned by someone else. Sometimes referred to as “squatters’ rights,” adverse possession laws are often cited to settle boundary disputes with neighbors or to provide legal title for homeowners lacking adequate documentary proof of ownership. This area of the law is directly based on the statute of limitations for trespassing claims. It is based on the principle that land should not lie idle and, if it does, it is wasted to the community. Therefore, if someone moves onto the land and can demonstrate that it made it productive, that person may earn the right to claim it as their own. This presentation will examine the theory, history and process involved for the imposition of this property right and hopefully provide the attendee with a better understanding of this time honored principle.
James S. Ettelson, Esq.
November 2, 2020