Adverse Possession is a means of acquiring property without the permission of or sale by the real owner.
In order to establish a claim of Adverse Possession, the claimant must satisfy the following elements. The possession of the property must be Continuous. As it sounds, this means uninterrupted possession of the property for a period of twenty (20) years (in Pennsylvania). This does not necessarily mean that YOU had to occupy the property for 20 years, there are instances where “carryover” from one owner to the next can be considered.
The next element is Open, meaning that the possession must be visible and not secretive. The opposing property owner must
“know” or be able to know that you are possessing the land. You cannot secretly possess land.
The third element is Hostile, meaning that the possession must be without the real owner’s permission and against that owner’s interests. This does not mean that you are “at war” or fighting with the owner, it simply means that you do not have the owners’ explicit consent or permission.
The fourth element, Exclusive, means that the adverse possessor must exercise control of the land, excluding all others. If the claimant can satisfy these elements, he/she may be able to file a claim for ownership of the subject property. This claim would be initiated by filing a Petition in the Court of Common Pleas of the County in which the property is located.
This is not a road to go down alone. Our associate, Matthew Becker, has handled a variety of Adverse Possession claims for our clients in southwestern Pennsylvania and welcomes your inquiry. To set up an initial consultation, contact my office at 412-823-8003 .