You might be surprised to learn that under certain conditions, another person, even a trespasser or a stranger, could claim a legal right to your property. This is known as the law of adverse possession. Basically, it states that a person could lay claim to your property under certain conditions and if said person has lived on your property long enough. Miller & Steiert, P.C. points out that a reputable real estate lawyer in Denver could explain the intricacies of this law to you.
How Adverse Possession is Treated in Colorado
According to the Colorado Revised Statutes, for an individual to claim ownership of a parcel land under the law of adverse possession, his or her possession of the land should be:
- Actual – meaning they are physically occupying the land
- Continuous – refers to the continuity of the adverse possessor’s stay on the property
- Notorious and open – the occupation of the property is obvious to anyone, such that it should be apparent to the rightful owner, as well
- Hostile to the actual owner’s interests – meaning without consent, not to be mistaken for danger to the owner
- Exclusive – the adverse possessor acts as if he or she is the property’s legitimate owner
Under Colorado statutes, the occupier, squatter, or claimant, must likewise openly be in possession of a property for a minimum of 18 years. But there’s an exception to this rule. If the claimant holds a “Color of Title,” which is basically a legal document stating that the claimant owns the property, then he or she only needs to have been living in the property for a minimum of seven years.
Other Vital Things to Note
While some states require that the court determine whether the claimant was aware that she or he was trespassing, this doesn’t apply in Colorado. Essentially, the court doesn’t require that the claimant’s entry and continuous possession of a disputed land be conducted with intentional or deliberate hostility. This essentially means that it won’t matter if a claimant lived in your property or built a structure on your land, or whether or not the claimant erroneously built something on your land because they think the land is legally theirs; intent won’t have any bearing on the adverse possession claim of the claimant.
With this in mind, consult an experienced real estate lawyer to figure out your legal options if you think you have an adverse possession claim or are facing a claim on your land.