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California Adverse Possession Laws

When someone publicly moves into and improves an otherwise neglected property, he or she may acquire title to that property after a certain amount of time has passed. This is called "adverse possession," based on the notion that land should not sit idle. These protections are not valid if the possession of the property is done in secret. California adverse possession laws require at least five years of possession and payment of taxes throughout that period in order to be eligible for legal title.

The following table highlights the basics of California adverse possession law. See Adverse Possession: Continuous Trespassers' Rights to learn more.

Code Section Civ. Proc. §§318, 325, 328
Time Period Required for Occupation and Payment of Taxes: 5 yrs.
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability With disability: 20 yrs.; After disability lifted: 5 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes 5 years required
Title from Tax Assessor -

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a California real estate lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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