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Indiana Adverse Possession Laws

Maybe you heard a story about someone who had a bit of land out in the country, only to lose it to trespassers. Or maybe you see a few acres just sitting there and you think it’s going to waste. “Adverse possession” tends be a pretty confusing area of the law. So how does it all work? Is it an acceptable award to a person who will actually put the property to good use or an unjust land robbery by squatters? And what are the particulars in the Hoosier State? This is a brief summary of adverse possession laws in Indiana.

Adverse Possession Laws

There is a legal doctrine known as "adverse possession" by which trespassers who openly inhabit and improve a piece of property that is otherwise abandoned may gain title to that property after some specific conditions are met. Indiana's adverse possession laws require an individual to occupy a neglected property publicly for at least 10 years.

Adverse Possession in Indiana

The main provisions of Indiana adverse possession laws are listed in the following chart.

Code Section

32-21-7-1 et seq.; 34-11-1-2

Time Period Required for Occupation

10 yrs. (15 yrs. if cause of action arose before Sept. 1, 1982)-

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

After disability lifted: 2 yrs.

Improvements

-

Payment of Taxes

Required

Title from Tax Assessor

-

For a valid adverse possession claim, you must demonstrate four general elements:

  • A “hostile” claim: you must either
    • make an honest mistake (likes relying on an incorrect deed);
    • merely occupy the land (with or without knowledge that it is private property); or
    • be aware of your trespassing;
  • Actual possession: you must be physically present on the land, treating it as your own;
  • Open and notorious possession: the act of trespassing cannot be secret; and
  • Exclusive and continuous possession: you cannot share possession with others, and must be in possession of the land for an uninterrupted period of time.

Related Resources for Indiana Adverse Possession Laws

Real estate and land use law (especially tricky concepts like adverse possession) can be confusing. If you would like to discuss a real estate case with a lawyer or if you want to understand your rights and responsibilities as a landowner, you can contact an experienced Indiana real estate attorney in your area and schedule a consultation. You can also continue your own research and find more comprehensive resources on this topic in FindLaw’s adverse possession section.

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