In Maine, landowners can lose their real property if another person, without legal title to the property, uses the parcel for an extended period of time. Under the legal doctrine of "adverse possession," also referred to as "squatter's rights," an individual who openly inhabits an otherwise neglected piece of real estate and improves it is eligible for title after a certain period of time.
Although the basic features of the adverse possession doctrine are similar in all states, specific elements vary from state to state. Generally, the adverse possessors use must be:
What Is The Purpose Of Adverse Possession Laws?
Historically, lawmakers have used several different legal and practical justifications for adverse possession laws. The primary purpose has always been to settle land titles and bar stale claims. Why was this important? Mainly because land owners, land purchasers, and creditors need to feel more secure about land investments, thus encouraging the alienability of land.
A second reason for the doctrine was to discourage landowners from "sleeping on their rights." This implies the notion that lazy landowners should be punished.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, to settle boundary and land disputes between neighbors.
Maine Adverse Possession Laws
In addition to a squatter taking possession of the property contrary to the rights of the true owner and using it as if it were their own in what the law refers to as "open, hostile, and notorious," Maine adverse possession laws require a lengthy 20-year period of occupation and payment of property taxes before a squatter may claim title.
The basic provisions of Maine's adverse possession laws are listed in the following table, with links to additional articles.
|Code Section||Tit. 14 §§801, et seq.|
|Time Period Required for Occupation||20 yrs.and Color of Title/payment of taxes: 20 years|
|Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability||After disability lifted: 10 yrs. notwithstanding 20 yrs. have expired|
|Payment of Taxes||Required on uncultivated lands in unincorporated areas|
|Title from Tax Assessor||-|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Maine Adverse Possession Laws: Related Resources
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