Texas Adverse Possession Laws
It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but under the legal theory of adverse possession, if someone trespasses onto land continuously and improves the land over a period of time, title to the land may eventually pass to the trespasser. Adverse possession laws are intended to promote the productive use and maintenance of the land and discourage letting land go to waste. In general, to obtain title to land through adverse possession, a trespasser must satisfy four requirements:
He or she must enter or use the land without the permission of the owner;
He or she must actually be present on the land, as well as treating and using it as if it were his or her own;
He or she must use the land in an open and obvious way; and
He or she must use the land for a continuous period of time, without sharing possession with others (unless it would constitute adverse possession by tenants in common).
To give an example, someone who publicly inhabits a foreclosed house for a certain period of time, improves the property, and pays taxes may claim legal residence. In Texas, the landowner has 25 years in which to challenge the claim -- and then title passes to the trespasser.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. §16.024, et seq.
Time Period Required for Occupation
10 yrs.and Color of Title: 3 yrs. and Color of Title/Payment of taxes: 5 yrs
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability
With disability: 25 yrs.
Taxes plus cultivation: 5 yrs.; Cultivation only: 10 yrs.
Payment of Taxes Required
Title from Tax Assessor
Note: State laws are constantly changing –Call Sherry D. Tavel at 281-354-8156 or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.