Adverse Possession Basics | Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont
Updated: May 3
As a homeowner, you probably know that you own the property that is legally registered in your name. But did you know that someone else could actually possess and live on your land without your permission? This is called adverse possession, and it can be a confusing topic for homeowners to understand. In this blog post, we will break down what adverse possession is, and explain how to protect yourself against it.
In New Jersey, adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to claim ownership of a piece of property that they do not have title to. In order to claim ownership under adverse possession, the person must have been in possession of the property for a certain period of time and must have met certain other requirements.
New Jersey's requirements for adverse possession are as follows: the person claiming adverse possession must be:
1) actual (exercising control over the property)
2) exclusive (in the possession of the trespasser alone)
3) open and notorious (using the property as the real owner would, without hiding his or her occupancy), and
4) continuous for the statutory period (which is 30 years in New Jersey for most types of property under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-6, but 60 years for "uncultivated lands," such as woods, under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-30).
In New Jersey, if a person meets all of the requirements for adverse possession, they can file a lawsuit to quiet title to the property.
The legal doctrine of adverse possession originated in England and was brought over to the United States by the colonists. The doctrine was originally meant to encourage people to settle and develop vacant or unclaimed land. Over time, the requirements for adverse possession have become more strict, and it is now very difficult to successfully claim ownership of property through adverse possession.
In New Jersey, if a person meets all of the requirements for adverse possession, they can file a lawsuit to quiet title to the property. This type of lawsuit is also known as an action in ejectment. In an action in ejectment, the court will decide who has the better right to possess the property in question. If the court decides that the person claiming adverse possession has met all of the requirements and has a better right to possess the property, then the court will order that the title to the property be transferred to the person claiming adverse possession.
There are a few defenses that can be used against a claim of adverse possession in New Jersey. One defense is that the person claiming adverse possession did not actually believe that they owned the property. Another defense is that the person claiming adverse possession did not meet all of the requirements for adverse possession. For example, if the person claiming adverse possession was not in exclusive possession of the property, or if they were not in possession of the property for the required statutory period, then their claim may be unsuccessful.
New Jersey's requirements for adverse possession are relatively straightforward, but claims of adverse possession can be complex. If you are thinking about claiming ownership of property through adverse possession, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your specific situation.
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As with any legal issue, it is important that you obtain competent legal counsel before making any decisions about how to respond to a subpoena or whether to challenge one - even if you believe that compliance is not required. Because each situation is different, it may be impossible for this article to address all issues raised by every situation encountered in responding to a subpoena. The information below can give you guidance regarding some common issues related to subpoenas, but you should consult with an attorney before taking any actions (or refraining from acts) based on these suggestions. Separately, this post will focus on New Jersey law. If you receive a subpoena in a state other than New Jersey you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney in your state as certain rules differ in other states.