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How does adverse possession work?

Adverse possession can help you gain the title to a home or the use of property. It's not simple to take possession of a property in this way, but it is possible.

Adverse possession is a long process, and you need to follow strict rules to win your case for possession. Here are a few commonly asked questions.

What is adverse possession?

Adverse possession, also nicknamed "squatters rights," is the act of taking control of a property over time until it becomes yours legally. At the beginning, the property is simply empty or being unused by the owner.

What must you do to take possession of a property legally?

To take adverse possession of a property, you need to live in it openly. That means that you can't hide inside or keep the lights off at all hours to pretend you aren't there. You need to life in the home or structure as if you always have and like it's your property. You will need to take care of the property and live there for many years before you will be considered the lawful owner.

How long do you have to live on the property before you can take legal possession?

You must live on the property for 10 years according to the laws in South Carolina.

You've used your neighbor's property for years without him or her saying anything, but now he wants you to move your things. Do you have to do so?

If you've possessed the land without permission for over 10 years, you would adversely possess it. In that case, you may need to go to court to prove that you have been using the land as your own, especially if your neighbor wishes to pursue a claim against you. If that happens, your attorney can help you present your case so you can show that you should now be considered the rightful property owner of that land.

Source: FindLaw, "South Carolina Adverse Possession Laws," accessed June 09, 2017

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