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Does Texas property law protect my “squatter’s rights?”

Texas law allows trespassers to gain legal ownership of land simply by occupying the land for a long enough period. While this is Hanging Squatter Signcommonly called squatter’s rights, the legal term is “adverse possession.” In order for a trespasser to inherit the land, the owner of the property must press a claim to remove the trespasser within a certain amount of time to regain the title.

Under Texas law, property owners must press a claim within one of the following time limits:

  • Three years. A squatter who has been living on another’s land for three years can file an adverse possession claim if he or she can provide some proof of ownership (such as a title to neighboring property that may overlap with the squatted land).
  • Five years. Squatters may file an adverse possession claim as long as they possess a duly registered deed and have cared for the property and paid the applicable property taxes on the land for five years. 
  • Ten years. Property owners have a maximum of ten years to recover land from a trespasser. If a squatter has occupied and controlled land for 10 years and the true owner knew of the occupancy and did nothing, the trespasser may be granted the right to the land.

Squatters Must Satisfy Legal Requirements to Gain Ownership

Adverse possession laws require the true landowner to know that the trespass has occurred, as well as allow the landowner a chance to retake possession. In addition to notifying the landowner of the occupation, a trespasser must meet the following requirements:

  • Occupy land or property without permission of the owner.
  • Physically occupy the land or structure.
  • Be the only person occupying or claiming a right to the land (other than the owner).
  • Openly possess the land in a way that is obvious to onlookers.
  • Maintain continuous use and occupation of the land.
  • Perform reasonable upkeep of the land and pay the applicable costs of maintenance.

Want to know if you have a legal right to someone else’s property? Call Wayne Wright today at 800-237-3334 to discuss the details of your case in your free consultation.