Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, immigration law, will & estates, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.
Did you know that a trespasser could gain ownership rights to your privately held property in Texas? What? How is that possible? Are you screaming at the screen in disbelief? Well, before you become too outraged, it’s critical to discuss the topic of adverse possession.
As a general rule of property ownership in the Lone Star State, one’s ownership of land must be in writing to be enforceable. You need a deed or conveyance indicating that you are the true owner. However, there is a crucial exception to this rule, known as adverse possession.
Adverse Possession: A legal concept that allows a trespasser, often times a neighbor, to gain legal title over the land of a property owner.
Adverse possession in Texas is controlled by statutes passed by the state legislature. One key component to keep in mind is that Texas places the burden of proof on the trespasser to establish a claim of adverse possession. Whoever holds the legal title is presumed to be the owner unless and until the adverse possessor can meet that burden. More simply stated, it is the trespasser’s job to convince a judge that he or she should be granted title or ownership over the land in dispute.
Texas Requirements for Adverse Possession:
There is no single statute in Texas that spells out the elements that a trespasser must establish to prove adverse possession. Rather, the courts have established a variety of factors over many decades. As in most states, adverse possession in Texas is established from the nature of a trespasser’s possession and the length of time he or she possesses the land. A trespasser’s possession must be:
- hostile (against the right of the true owner and without permission)
- actual (exercising control over the property)
- exclusive (in the possession of the trespasser alone)
- open and notorious (using the property as the real owner would, without hiding his or her occupancy)
- continuous for the statutory period (the number of years varies on a case by case basis – most states follow the 20 year statutory period)
Trespasser’s Intent is Irrelevant:
In Texas, there is no requirement that the entry and continued possession of the property be done knowingly or with hostility. The doctrine of adverse possession in Texas protects someone who has honestly entered and held possession in the belief that the land is his or her own, as well as one who knowingly appropriates the land of others for the specific purpose of acquiring title.
As you can see, whether you’re a property owner in one of Dallas’ rapidly growing suburbs of Prosper McKinney, Frisco, Fairview, or Celina (just to name a few), you likely have several neighbors bordering your property. Unbelievable as it may seem, those neighbors may be able to gain legal title to pieces of your property through the legal doctrine of adverse possession. Even more astonishingly, a grifter could squat on your land and develop a claim to legal ownership. Now that you’re familiar with the concept of adverse possession in Texas, keep an eye on encroachments and boundary lines that may suspiciously move with every new fence that’s erected. If you want more information, please read my previous blog post.
I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”
As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!
Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?