Ever heard of adverse possession? I suspect Cindy Kinsler had never heard about adverse possession before moving into her house in 2018. She started building a fence that included regrading her backyard. The fight over the fence started soon after Kinsler moved in
“I found out that the neighbor’s fence was about 4 or 5 feet onto my property,” she said. “It was an old chain-link fence, and it was falling over.”
It surrounded the back yard of the home next door, and one side of it bordered Kinsler’s yard. That section was on her property, and it’s the section of fence she wanted to replace. The house owner refused to take any action on the fence; instead, “My neighbor sued me,” Kinsler said. “And he won.”
The lawsuit centers around something called adverse possession.
Real estate attorney David Skalka isn’t connected to Kinsler’s case but is familiar with adverse possession cases.
According to KETV 7, “Adverse possession provides that if someone has openly used and maintained a property for a period, believing they are the owner, then they can become the owner of the property if they’ve maintained it for ten years,” Skalka said.
Cindy Kinsler hopes other homeowners never have to experience what she has.
Squatters may invite the law to recognize their adverse possession. A squatter can claim rights to the property. It takes ten years of continuous residence in Nebraska before a squatter can make an adverse possession claim. You can extend the time by another ten years if the landowner is legally disabled. When a squatter claims adverse possession, they can gain legal ownership of the property. At this point, the squatter has legal permission to remain there and is no longer considered a criminal trespasser.
There are five distinct legal requirements in the US that the squatter must meet before they can make an adverse possession claim. The occupation must be:
If the squatter does not fulfill these five elements, they do not have grounds for adverse possession.
“Hostile” doesn’t necessarily mean violent or dangerous. In the legal sense, hostile has three definitions that states may choose to use.
Some states require that squatters pay property taxes to make an adverse possession claim. Nebraska isn’t one of them. While a squatter may use their receipts and documentation from paying property taxes to help their case, it isn’t required and won’t decrease the continuous possession necessary time.
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