I’m sure you heard someone mention squatter’s rights over the years. It commonly comes up when someone is discussing a piece of land that has been vacant for many years. Yes, squatter’s rights are real, and they’re real in Ohio, too. The legal term for squatter’s rights is adverse possession.

Adverse possession allows someone who actually possesses the land of another for a certain period of time to claim legal title to that land without ever having to pay for it.

In Ohio to prove adverse possession, a possessor must prove by clear and convincing evidence that they:

  • have exclusive possession,
  • that is open,
  • notorious,
  • continuous,
  • and adverse to the true property owner’s rights,
  • for a period of 21 years. Grace v. Koch (1998), 81 Ohio St. 3d 557, 578.

So you may be thinking, if I live on a piece of property for 21 years, then it’s mine. Well, you would only be partially correct. If you meet all of the requirements above, then you have to go to court and prove it. That’s right: you don’t just get the property without going to court to prove that you meet the requirements.

Before you go claiming that you have squatter’s rights, be sure to get a survey of your property and familiarize yourself with its correct boundaries and limits.  This way you will know if someone else has wrongfully set up camp on your land. And if they have, then it’s important that you don’t sleep on your rights, as you could lose ownership of the property.

If you (or any one you know) think that you have adversely possessed property or think someone is trying to take your property, feel free to contact a real estate attorney like Edward Littlejohn at 740.346.2899 for a telephone consultation to discussion your legal situation.

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