North Dakota Adverse Possession Laws

Under adverse possession laws, individuals may gain legal title to a piece of another individual's property if they openly inhabit the space for a certain period of time. These laws are set up in a way that gives the rightful owner of the property plenty of time and notice in which to kick the "squatter" of the land. Mostly, they are invoked for resolving confusion over property boundaries, which can create premises liability problems.

North Dakota Adverse Possession Law at a Glance

Details about claiming property under North Dakota's adverse possession law are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Land Use Laws section for more related articles and resources.

Code Section 28-01-04, et seq.; 47-06-03
Time Period Required for Occupation 20 yrs.and Color of Title: 20 yrs. and Color of Title/Payment of Taxes: 10 yrs.
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 10 yrs.
Improvements One way to possess land
Establishment of Adverse Possession Through a Written Instrument
For the purpose of constituting an adverse possession by any person claiming a title founded upon a written instrument or upon a judgment or decree, land must be deemed to have been so possessed and occupied in each of the following cases:
  • When it has been usually cultivated or improved;
  • When it has been protected by a substantial enclosure;
  • When, although not enclosed, it has been used for the supply of fuel or of fencing timber for the purposes of husbandry, or the ordinary use of the occupant; or
  • When a known farm or a single lot has been partly improved, the portion of such farm or lot that may have been left not cleared or not enclosed according to the usual course and custom of the adjoining country, must be deemed to have been occupied for the same length of time as the part improved and cultivated, but when the premises consist of two or more contiguous lots, the possession of one lot may not be deemed a possession of any other of such lots.
Establishment of Adverse Possession Not Based on Written Instrument
For the purpose of constituting an adverse possession by a person claiming title not founded upon a written instrument nor upon a judgment or decree, land shall be deemed to have been possessed and occupied only in the following cases:
  • When it has been protected by a substantial enclosure; or
  • When it has been usually cultivated or improved.
Payment of Taxes 10 yrs.
Title from Tax Assessor -

Note: State laws are always subject to change in any number of ways, typically through the enactment of newly signed legislation or precedent-setting decisions from higher courts. You may want to contact a North Dakota real estate attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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