The legal doctrine known as "adverse possession" allows trespassers who openly inhabit and improve an otherwise abandoned piece of property to gain title to that property after certain conditions are met. To be eligible, the person acquiring the property must do so publicly and pay property taxes or otherwise act as though he or she already has the right to possess it.
Otherwise known as "squatters' rights," adverse possession laws are frequently are invoked by squatters who inhabit land or structures otherwise left unused. The term "adverse" refers to the fact that those claiming land are doing so against the interests of the actual title holders. Seems strange, doesn't it? It is a unique area of real estate law.
Arizona makes it fairly easy for squatters to take possession of property. Unlike some states that require two decades of occupation, the Grand Canyon State will let a squatter take possession after as little as two years (under certain circumstances).
Arizona's adverse possession laws require an individual to occupy an otherwise neglected property publicly for at least 2 years. The Arizona statute (ARS 12-523) states:
This is specifically differentiated from "color of title" adverse possession (meaning he or she has reason to believe they have the right to possess the property). The Arizona statute sets out the three-year limitation thusly:
The following chart lists the main provisions of Arizona adverse possession laws.
|Code Section||12-522 et seq.|
|Time Period Required for Occupation||2 yrs. (if occupied with no claim to title) and Color of Title: 3 yrs. or 5 yrs. if city lot|
|Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability||3 yrs. after cause of action arrives|
|Improvements||Taxes plus cultivation: 5 yrs.; Cultivation only: 10 yrs.|
|Payment of Taxes||5 consecutive yrs. before suit to recover|
|Title from Tax Assessor||-|
Get Professional Legal Help with Your Adverse Possession Claim
Adverse possession claims can be extremely complicated, whether you're filing a claim or defending against one. Hiring an attorney will help ensure that the proper forms are filed on time, that your specific details are properly taken into account, and will generally give you a better shot at success. If you need professional help with such a claim, call an Arizona real estate attorney today.
Contact a qualified attorney.