When a California property owner discovers that someone else is using all or part of the property without permission, it can be a shock. However, what may be more shocking is learning that the law is often on the side of the encroacher. This is known as adverse possession, and it can be a complex and challenging matter to unravel.
There are numerous circumstances that might result in adverse possession, which is also called squatters’ rights. Adverse possession can be unintentional, such as homeowners who erect a fence on a neighbor’s property because they used a deed with incorrect boundary lines. If the neighbor does nothing to correct the situation, the homeowner may legally claim the encroached upon land after enough time passes.
More nefarious forms of adverse possession include someone who develops someone else’s land, whether for agricultural purposes or even to live. If the landowners have abandoned the land or fail to protect their rights, the law may agree that they have forfeited their right to the land. Of course, even diligent property owners may experience a neighbor who is intentionally and openly trying to obtain possession of part of their land, such as by moving a fence or installing a driveway purposely over the property line.
There are options for dealing with those who seek to adversely possess someone else’s property. A property owner may consider offering an easement or even a rental agreement for the land in question. However, the solution may require taking the matter to civil court with the assistance of a skilled and experienced California attorney.