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Rhode Island Adverse Possession Laws

While trespassing is a violation of law in all 50 states, there is a loophole in the law that allows a "squatter" (or "continuous trespasser") to obtain legal title to a piece of property after a certain amount of time has passed. These so-called adverse possession laws allow individuals who openly inhabit and improve an otherwise neglected piece of property to gain legal title to the property after a statutory period of time has passed -- usually around 10 years. They primarily are used to resolve confusion over property boundaries, such as when a neighbor's fence is technically on your property by a few inches, which can create premises liability problems. Also, adverse possession can be used to generate an official legal title in the absence of home ownership records.

Adverse possession laws, based on common law, have their origins in the Roman Empire, where an individual in possession of an item without a title would become the rightful owner if the original owner failed to claim the property.

Rhode Island Adverse Possession Law at a Glance

Rhode Island's adverse possession law is very simple, allowing someone to claim legal title to an otherwise neglected piece of property after openly inhabiting it for at least 10 years. While the statute does not indicate the need to pay property taxes or make improvements, those two factors typically help the "squatter" make his or her case.

See FindLaw's Land Use Laws section for more related articles and resources.

Code Section 34-7-1, et seq.
Time Period Required for Occupation 10 yrs.-
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 10 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes -
Title from Tax Assessor -

Note: State laws are constantly changing, usually through the enactment of new legislation or changes brought about by higher court decisions. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a Rhode Island zoning and land use attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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