Adverse possession is a legal concept allowing individuals to gain ownership of land property through continuous and open use over a specific period without the original owner’s permission. However, claimants must meet rigorous criteria, such as actual, hostile, exclusive, open, and notorious possession for a statutorily defined period, to successfully claim adverse possession. The requirements and nuances of this law vary by state, reflecting its complex nature and the importance of understanding legal boundaries and rights in real property disputes.

At King Law, we guide individuals in establishing ownership of property through adverse possession. Our approach focuses on ensuring claimants meet the stringent requirements for a legally defined period. Understanding the complexities and state-specific nuances of adverse possession is crucial in navigating real property disputes and safeguarding legal rights and boundaries. If you are seeking adverse possession and fair property ownership, we can help. Please contact King Law at your earliest convenience to retain our support and assistance.

What Is an Adverse Possession Claim?

An adverse possession claim allows owners to prove title through possession for a certain period of time and may also be referred to as squatter’s rights in some jurisdictions. Obtaining title to a property when you claim adverse possession is similar to obtaining an easement by prescription. There is no exchange of documents of title and no closing or deed conveyance under adverse possession.

Instead, the title is awarded because of certain types of actions related to land. Adverse possession is a statutory doctrine, and the requirements vary from state to state. If statutory requirements are met, the title passes as though there had been a conveyance through the traditional methods of deed transfer. 

What Are the Requirements for an Adverse Possession Claim?

The recognized elements of adverse possession are as follows:

  • There must be an actual possession of the real property claimed
  • The possession must be hostile to the true owner
  • The claimant’s possession must be exclusive
  • The possession must be open and notorious
  • The possession must be continuous and uninterrupted for the statutory period
  • The possession must be with an intent to claim title to the land occupied

In North Carolina, to acquire ownership of land by adverse possession, the claimant must show actual, open, hostile, exclusive, and continuous possession of the land claimed for the prescriptive period under known and visible lines and boundaries.

Is There a Burden of Proof for an Adverse Possession Claim?

A party claiming title by adverse possession has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, that the possession and use of property looked like the following:

  1. Actual
  2. Open
  3. Visible
  4. Notorious
  5. Hostile
  6. Under claim of right
  7. Continuous
  8. Exclusive
  9. For a duration exceeding the 20-year limitation period

A claim of adverse possession is a mixed question of law and fact. We will go into greater detail for some of the requirements an adverse possessor must fulfill.

What Is Hostile Possession of the Property?

A “hostile” use is simply a use of such nature and exercised under such circumstances as to manifest and give notice that the use is being made under a claim of right.

North Carolina presumes permissive use, and the presumption is stronger when the parties are related. In cases of adverse possession by a tenant against the landlord, the lease must end before the use becomes adverse to the landlord. The statutory period to acquire title by adverse possession without color of title is twenty years.

What Is Adverse Possession?

The adverse nature of adverse possession consists in continuous and exclusive possession, with an intent to hold solely for the possessor to the exclusion of others, and is denoted by the exercise of acts of dominion over the land.

In these cases, an adverse possessor may make ordinary use and take ordinary profits of which the land owned is susceptible in its present state, such acts to be so repeated as to show that they are done in the character of the owner, in opposition to right or claim of any other person, and not merely as an occasional trespasser. Therefore, any adverse possession claims will require a clear demonstration that

It must be decided and notorious as the nature of the land will permit, affording unambiguous indication to all persons that he is exercising thereon the dominion of the owner. Hence, the possession must be open, notorious, and adverse.

What Is North Carolina’s Statutory Period to Claim Adverse Possession?

The claimant – or adverse possessor – may claim title by adverse possession only when he has possessed the property under known and visible lines and boundaries for the statutory period of 20 years.

The statutory period will vary by state. However, at the end of the legal period, the actual owner may lose ownership rights, according to legal doctrine.

Looking to Establish Adverse Possession in North Carolina? Fight for Your Rights With Support From King Law

Navigating the complexities of adverse possession can be a challenging journey. At King Law, we’re dedicated to guiding you through every step, ensuring you understand your rights and the legal process involved in claiming ownership of real property. If you believe you have a claim or are facing disputes related to adverse possession, don’t navigate these waters alone. Let us help you secure your property rights with confidence and peace of mind.

King Law is your partner in understanding and executing the nuances of adverse possession. Our experienced team is ready to assess your situation, provide comprehensive legal guidance, and represent your interests effectively. Serving North Carolina and South Carolina, we’re easily accessible and prepared to assist you with your real property disputes. Reach out to us when you complete our contact form or call (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING for a consultation. Your rights are important; let’s protect them together.

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