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Missouri Adverse Possession Laws

Overview of Missouri Adverse Possession Laws

In Missouri, as in other states, an individual who openly inhabits an otherwise neglected piece of property for a certain period of time may legally obtain title. This is called "adverse possession" and it's essentially a loophole in the law, closely related to trespassing. Basically, once the statute of limitations has run out, the legitimate property owner loses his or her right to force the "squatter" off of the property. In fact, adverse possession is often referred to as "squatter's rights."

There are some specific requirements, however, that make it relatively difficult for someone to claim another's property. While it is done without formal permission, the occupation must be open and obvious to any onlookers. Missouri law requires at least 10 years of continuous occupation before someone may claim a parcel of property.

The basic parameters of Missouri's adverse possession law are detailed in the following table, followed by additional general information and links to related resources. See Adverse Possession: Continuous Trespassers' Rights to learn more.

Code Section 516.010, .030
Time Period Required for Occupation 10 yrs.-
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 3 yrs., max. 21 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes -
Title from Tax Assessor -

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri land use and zoning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

What are the Basic Requirements for Claiming Adverse Possession?

While it is possible to obtain title for property one hasn't legally acquired, there are some fairly specific requirements. In practical terms, these laws are typically invoked when property lines are misdrawn or when there is a discrepancy among neighbors. States generally consider the following six requirements:

  1. Actual Possession - The trespasser must be physically present and using the property.
  2. Continuous Period - The possession must be a continuous 10 years, not broken up into time periods or combined with other individuals.
  3. Hostile - "Hostile," in this context, simply means the trespasser's use of the property is in conflict with the actual owner's title to the property.
  4. Open and Notorious - The possession must be done publicly, thus giving the title holder a change to take action.
  5. Exclusive Possession - The possession must be maintained by a single individual (and not used by the title owner or another party during the 10-year period).
  6. Color of Title - Some states (not including Missouri) require the possessor to have an invalid title, or otherwise a belief that they are in possession of the property.

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Missouri Adverse Possession Laws: Related Resources

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