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Florida Adverse Possession Laws

Most of us may have never heard of adverse possession before. And depending on your perspective, the idea of adverse possession can either seem like a justified transfer of land to someone who will actually put the property to a more beneficial use, or an unfair theft of land by squatters. So how does it work in practice, and what are the legal particulars in the Sunshine State? Here is a brief summary of adverse possession laws in Florida.

Adverse Possession

The law of adverse possession says when an individual publicly moves into an otherwise neglected property and improves this property, they can be granted title to it after a period of time. Florida adverse possession laws require claimants to occupy a given property for at least 7 years and either under "color of title" or payment of property taxes for seven years.

Adverse Possession

State statues on adverse possession can differ. Learn about the basic provisions of Florida adverse possession laws in the table below.

Code Section

95.16, 18, 191, 192

Time Period Required for Occupation

7 yrs and Color of Title; or

7 yrs. and Payment of Taxes.

Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability

-

Improvements

One way to possess land

Payment of Taxes

7 yrs.

Title from Tax Assessor

4 yrs.

There are normally four major requirements for a valid adverse possession claim:

  1. Hostile Claim: The trespasser must either
    1. be aware of his or her trespassing;
    2. merely occupy the land (with or without knowledge that it is private property); or
    3. make an honest mistake (such as relying on an incorrect deed),
  2. Actual Possession: The trespasser must be physically present on the land, treating it as his or her own.
  3. Open and Notorious Possession: The act of trespassing cannot be in secret.
  4. Exclusive and Continuous Possession: The trespasser cannot share possession with others, and must be in possession of the land for an unbroken period of time.

Additionally, Florida’s adverse possession statute requires cultivation, improvement, or protection from a substantial enclosure on the land.

Related Resources for Florida Adverse Possession Laws

Laws regarding real estate can be complex, especially in a scenario involving adverse possession. If you would like to know your rights and responsibilities as a landowner or occupier, or if you would like legal advice regarding an existing adverse possession case, you can contact a Florida real estate attorney. You can also visit FindLaw’s adverse possession section for more introductory information on this topic.

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