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Minnesota Adverse Possession Laws

What is Adverse Possession?

An individual who openly inhabits a property that he or she does not actually own and makes improvements over a certain period of time may be granted legal title under the legal doctrine of "adverse possession." Technically, the waiting period reflects the statute of limitations for a trespassing lawsuit. Most states have adverse possession laws (often referred to as "squatters' rights"), with slightly varying provisions, but generally require the person inhabiting the property to follow certain guidelines.

For instance, the possession must be done:

  • Openly and notoriously (without sneaking around)
  • Exclusively (one party, with no other such claims elsewhere)
  • Adversely, or by claim of right (without explicit permission, or with legitimate reason to believe the person has a right to the property)
  • Continuously and without interruption throughout the statutory period

Overview of Minnesota Adverse Possession Law

In order to claim title under Minnesota's adverse possession law ("Recovery of Real Estate"), you must be in possession of the property for 15 years and pay taxes for at least five consecutive years. The statute excludes certain boundary line disputes (see FindLaw's Property Boundaries section to learn more).

Code Section 541.02, 15
Time Period Required for Occupation 15 yrs.and payment of taxes for 5 consecutive years
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability With disability: 5 yrs. (except for infancy); After disability lifted: 1 yr.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes -
Title from Tax Assessor -

Note: State laws are constantly changing, typically through new legislation, appeals court decisions, or ballot initiatives. We regularly update our content, but you may also want to contact a Minnesota land use and zoning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

A Brief History of Adverse Possession Laws

Adverse possession laws have been justified for a few reasons, mainly to settle land titles and disputes between neighbors, and to avoid stale claims (those barred under the statute of limitations). Also, these laws encourage landowners to maintain their property so it doesn't become underused or overgrown.

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