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Texas Adverse Possession Laws

It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but under the legal theory of adverse possession, if someone trespasses onto land continuously and improves the land over a period of time, title to the land may eventually pass to the trespasser. Adverse possession laws are intended to promote the productive use and maintenance of the land and discourage letting land go to waste. In general, to obtain title to land through adverse possession, a trespasser must satisfy four requirements:

  1. He or she must enter or use the land without the permission of the owner;
  2. He or she must actually be present on the land, as well as treating and using it as if it were his or her own;
  3. He or she must use the land in an open and obvious way; and
  4. He or she must use the land for a continuous period of time, without sharing possession with others (unless it would constitute adverse possession by tenants in common).

To give an example, someone who publicly inhabits a foreclosed house for a certain period of time, improves the property, and pays taxes may claim legal residence. In Texas, the landowner has 25 years in which to challenge the claim -- and then title passes to the trespasser.

Learn more about Texas adverse possession laws and related matters below.

Code Section

Civ. Prac. & Rem. §16.024, et seq.

Time Period Required for Occupation

10 yrs.and Color of Title: 3 yrs. and Color of Title/Payment of taxes: 5 yrs

Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability

With disability: 25 yrs.


Taxes plus cultivation: 5 yrs.; Cultivation only: 10 yrs.

Payment of Taxes


Title from Tax Assessor


Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Texas real estate attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For more information on Texas adverse possession laws, feel free to check out the links to the related resources provided below. You can also learn more about this area of law, in general, by browsing FindLaw’s real estate law section. Finally, if you believe you have an adverse possession claim, or you would like to protect yourself from an adverse possession claim, you may want to talk to a local Texas real estate lawyer.

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