Acquiring legal title to real property in Indiana can be accomplished in a number of ways. Most commonly, legal title is obtained through a real estate purchase transaction. Another common way one can obtain title to real estate is through inheritance. A third, less common, way a person can may obtain title to Indiana real estate is through adverse possession. In Indiana, adverse possession is a legal principle that allows a party to acquire a valid title to the property by occupying the land instead of buying it.
What are the statutory elements of an adverse possession claim?
Landowners may own and purchase multiple properties as investments. They may not keep tabs on all of them. As a property owner, you must understand the basics of adverse possession laws to protect your land. A person making an adverse possession claim to your property would need to satisfy these elements:
- Control: The occupying party must have exclusive and continuous personal use of the real estate. They cannot share the land with others.
- Duration: They would need to have controlled and occupied the property for at least ten years.
- Intent: The party must explicitly and fully intend to claim ownership of the real estate they were occupying.
- Notice: The party must inform the property owner that they are making a claim. They must provide a formal notice to the owner that they intend to assume ownership.
- Substantial tax compliance: Indiana laws also require an adverse possessor to comply substantially with the payment of taxes on the real estate they claim to own.
Adverse possession basically gives the squatter rights to your property. They must meet all the elements above and present clear and convincing evidence that they met the elements to make their claim valid.
How can I protect my land in Indiana?
Adverse possession laws can work for you regardless of whether you are the property owner or the one claiming the property is yours. If you believe you own a property that another person has the title to so much so you have been paying the taxes on the property, satisfying the elements above may suffice in court. In contrast, if you own property and want to protect it from squatters making claims, you should find a way to get them out of there before they satisfy the ten-year statutory period.
Real estate laws have many diverse and complex qualities that can be daunting for any property owner. You can maintain or claim ownership of real estate in different legal ways.