Imagine you have inherited a large, vacant piece of Texas land from your beloved uncle. You are excited, because the land holds promising residential and commercial real estate development. You travel out to view the land, and you notice a large mobile home parked on the land accompanied by what appears to be utilities, including a septic tank and electrical hook up. You are shocked, because no had ever mentioned to you that the land could be occupied. You have no idea how long they have been there, and war stories of adverse possession start circulating through your head.
Before you become too anxious, perhaps the following primer on San Antonio and greater Texas adverse possession will be helpful. Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code , the term “adverse possession” refers to a situation where a party makes an actual and visible takeover of land that is considered hostile and inconsistent with the claim of another party. The possession must occur over a period of time in which there is no suit by the landowner to recover the property.
There are multiple statutes of limitations on adverse possession in Texas.
For example, under the three (3) year statute of limitations, a party has three years to file suit to recover property held in adverse possession by the occupants if the occupants have asserted title or color of title to the property. Title means that the party in adverse possession is listed in a regular chain of transfer of real estate. “Color of title” refers to a consecutive chain of transfers that is not properly recorded. This is a very short statute of limitations, and it is essential that a property owner researches the county records to make sure that title still remains in their name.
Under the five (5) year statute of limitations, then the owner has five years to bring suit to recover land held in adverse possession where the party occupying the land is enjoying the property, paying the real estate taxes and is claiming the property under a registered Texas deed. The deed must be valid, and it cannot be forged in any way.
In our next post on this topic, we will discuss the 10 year and 25 year statute of limitations and some of the elements of evidence a party must prove in a suit for adverse possession as well as a trespass to try title suit.
If you are like the gentleman above, time is of the essence. You must consult a San Antonio Texas real estate attorney to determine your options to fight someone who is not welcome and has taken over your land.