I have a question about adverse possession

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I have a question about adverse possession

I’ve been living at my address with my family for about 5 years and I notice the property next door is vacant. I have taken notice of a lady who came out but she and I mean very obviously does not care about the property. There is trash on the small roof and the door was open so I said hello and went it and found nobody completely empty. I have did my homework and have started cleaning the property. I want to know if I make payments on her back tax? And make an improvement such as turn the water on could I claim adverse possession? I;m 22 and in PA and if I don’t have to buy the whole property that would be great.

Asked on June 25, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is not as simple or nearly as quick as that. To claim a property by adverse possession in Pennsylvania, you must:
1) Actually use the property you want to claim;
2) exclusively--so you're not letting anyone else, including the owner use it;
3) in a way hostile to the owner's interests--so not with her permission; 
4) in an open, obvious, and notorious way--the owner, or any friends, family, agents, representatives of hers, etc. who visit the property must be able to see that you are using and claiming the land (so that they can see that you are trespassing and take action if they choose);
5) continuously for 21 (that's right; twenty-one) years.
So 21 years from now, if you fulfill the other requirements, you may get ownership.

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