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New Jersey Adverse Possession Laws

Also referred to "continuous trespassers' rights," the legal theory of adverse possession allows someone who has publicly inhabited and improved an otherwise neglected parcel of property to gain title after a certain amount of time has passed. New Jersey adverse possession laws, for instance, require a 30-year period of occupation before the squatter may be granted title.

Adverse possession laws, or "squatter's rights" are -- in a sense -- a logical extension of trespassing laws. Essentially, the statute of limitations for trespassing charges must expire before the squatter may claim title; which means the squatter may stay by default. In most states, including New Jersey, a continuous trespasser must meet the following criteria in order to have a legitimate claim on a piece of property:

  • 'Hostile' Possession - This does not mean the property is taken by force, only that it is done without permission from the property owner.

  • 'Actual' Possession - In other words, one must live at the property (be physically present) in order to claim title.

  • 'Open and Notorious' - The possession of the property is not covert or hidden, but obvious to onlookers.

  • 'Exclusive and Continuous' for a Specified Period of Time - The occupation must be continuous and not split up among different individuals. In New Jersey, 30 years (or 60 if a "woodland").

Adverse possession laws are rooted in Roman law, which allowed someone in possession of a good without title to legally own this good if the original owner was absent for a year or two (unless it was stolen). This was later adopted throughout Europe and eventually become part of common law.

Information about New Jersey's adverse possession laws is listed below. See FindLaw's Land Use Laws section to learn more.

Code Section 2A:14-30 to 32; 2A:62-2
Time Period Required for Occupation 30 yrs., or 60 yrs. if woodland, and Color of Title: 30 yrs. and Payment of Taxes: 5 yrs.
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 5 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes -
Title from Tax Assessor -

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

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