State-by-State Rules on Adverse Possession

In some circumstances, a trespasser who comes onto your land and occupies it may gain legal ownership of it. The legal term for this is "adverse possession." Here’s where to find your state rules covering adverse possession.

Under certain circumstances, a trespasser can come onto land, occupy it, and gain legal ownership of it. The legal term for this is “adverse possession.” To qualify as adverse possession (and to get ownership of the property), the trespasser’s occupation of the land must be:

  • hostile (meaning without permission, though the definition can vary by state)
  • actual (meaning physical occupation)
  • open and notorious (meaning the possession is obvious to onlookers), and
  • exclusive and continuous for a certain period of time.

The time period that the trespasser must have occupied the land varies by state. To find the time period in your state, see the table below. In some states, the trespasser must have paid taxes on the property during this time period. Other states don’t require payment of property taxes, but will apply a shorter time requirement for land occupation if the trespasser has paid taxes. And some states don’t mention tax payments at all in their adverse possession statutes.

Finally, some states will only allow an adverse possession claim if the trespasser has some sort of a document or deed related to ownership of the property (even if the document is inaccurate or carries no legal weight).

For more information on the legal requirements for adverse possession, and how to prevent adverse possession if you are a landowner, see Nolo’s article Adverse Possession: When Trespassers Become Owners.

Use the following adverse possession statute table as a starting point, and read related statutes (you’ll find these in the Nolo article Disputes Between Neighbors: Your State Laws). You might also search your state laws under “limitations of action” or “prescription.” To learn more about legal research, see Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research section.

State Adverse Possession Statute Time Required (in Years) for Continuous Possession
In Order to Make an Adverse Possession Claim, You must have…
Alabama Ala. Code Ann. § 6-5-200 10 (deed or taxes)
A document or deed, or paid taxes on the property during this time period.
Alaska Alaska Stat. Ann. § § 09.10.030, 09.45.052 10, 7 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
Arizona Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 12-522 and following 10, 5 (deed, taxes if city lot), 3 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. § § 18-61-103, 18-11-106 7 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
California Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 325 5 (taxes)
Paid taxes on the property in this state during this time period.
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 38-41-101, 38-41-108 18, 7 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 52-575 15
Delaware Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7901 20
District of Columbia D.C. Code Ann. § § 16-1113, 12-301 15
Florida Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.12 and following 7 (deed or taxes)
A document or deed, or paid taxes on the property during this time period.
Georgia Ga. Code Ann. § § 44-4-7, 44-5-14, 44-5-161 and following 20, 7 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
Hawaii Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-31 to 31.5 20
Idaho Idaho Code Ann. § § 5-206 and following 20 (taxes)
Paid taxes on the property in this state during this time period.
Illinois 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § § 5/13-105, 107, 109 20, 7 (deed or taxes)
A document or deed, or paid taxes on the property during this time period.
Indiana Ind. Code Ann. § § 32-23-1-1, 34-11-2-11 10 (taxes)
Paid taxes on the property in this state during this time period.
Iowa Iowa Code Ann. § 614.17A 10
Kansas Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-503 15
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. § § 413.010, 413.060 15, 7 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
Louisiana La. Civ. Code art. 3475, 3486 30, 10 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
Maine Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 801 20
Maryland Md. Ann. Code [Cts. & Jud. Proc.] § 5-103 20
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 21 20
Michigan Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5801 15
Minnesota Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.02 15 (taxes)
Paid taxes on the property in this state during this time period.
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. § § 15-1-7, 15-1-13 10
Missouri Mo. Stat. Ann. § 516.010 10
Montana Mont. Code Ann. § 70-19-411 5 (taxes)
Paid taxes on the property in this state during this time period.
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-202 10
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 11.070, 11.110, 11.150, 40.090 15 (taxes), 5 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:2 20
New Jersey N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-30 30
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. § 37-1-22 10 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
New York New York Real Prop. Acts. Law § 501, 511 10
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 1-38, 1-40 20, 7 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § § 28-01-04 and following, 47-06-03 20, 10 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
Ohio Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.04 21
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 93 15
Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. § § 12.050, 105.620 10
Pennsylvania 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5530 21
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 34-7-1 10
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 15-67-210 10
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § § 15-3-1, 15-3-15 20, 10 (taxes, deed)
You must have a document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § § 28-2-101 to 28-2-103 7 (deed)
A document or deed in the shorter time period noted.
Texas Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.021 and following 10, 5 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
Utah Utah Code Ann. § § 78B-2-208 to 78B-2-214 7 (taxes)
Paid taxes on the property in this state during this time period.
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 501 15
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-236 15
Washington Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § § 4.16.020, 7.28.050 10, 7 (deed or taxes)
A document or deed, or paid taxes on the property during this time period.
West Virginia W. Va. Code § 55-2-1 10
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. Ann. § § 893.25 to 893.27 20, 10 (deed), 7 (deed, taxes)
A document or deed and paid taxes on the property during the shorter time period above.
Wyoming Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-103 10

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