Adverse possession is the legal concept of entering onto someone else’s property and staying on it for a long enough period that it becomes your property. This can happen when a person doesn’t realize where the actual boundaries of his or her property are and puts a fence or begins to farm or log on the neighbor's property. If the person continues to do this for the statutory period, then the land becomes his or hers, despite not paying for it.
In Connecticut, you must be on the land for 15 years to acquire property by adverse possession. However, leaving the property for a few years or taking over the property after 10 years from a stranger (also not the property owner), or legal disabilities of the actual landowner can increase the amount of time it takes to adversely possess the property.
The chart below briefly outlines the adverse possession laws in Connecticut.
|Code Sections||Connecticut General Statutes Section
47-31: Action to Settle Title or Claim Interest in Real or Personal Property
52-575: Entry Upon Land to Be Made Within Fifteen Years
|Time Period Required for Occupation||A person must be openly and actually possession the land exclusively and continuously for 15 years to make a claim on it by adverse possession.|
|Time for Landowner to Challenge and Effect of Landowner’s Disability||If the landowner is under a legal “disability” that is, is a minor, legally incompetent, or imprisoned, then he or she can defend his or her title to the land beyond the usual 15 years. In this case, the person has 5 years after the disability is removed, i.e. the child becomes an adult, the person is returned to sanity, or the offender is released from prison, to assert his or her right to the land.|
|Prohibited Adverse Possession||Adverse possession of railroad, railway, or canal land is not possible in Connecticut. In addition, you can’t get non-profit organization or investor-owned water company land by adverse possession. Any property built upon or lived on by a squatter remains railway company property, even if 15 years have passed.
Property owners can’t get the “right to light” by adverse possession. Meaning, you can’t prohibit a neighbor from building a tall structure merely by claiming to have adversely possessed the air or light coming from that lot. Unfortunately, you generally don’t have a right to a view.
If you have questions about adverse possession, either to defend your right to your land or to claim land you believe you have taken over by adverse possession, you should consult with an experienced Connecticut real estate attorney.
Note: State laws are updated frequently, so it’s a good idea to conduct your own legal research or consult a lawyer to verify these laws.
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