Houston, TX asked in Real Estate Law for Texas

Q: Adverse possession of property

I am trying to get a property in my name that was verbally given to me. The lady had passed away. Doing adverse possessions I have paid the back taxes and been update to date paying current taxes for the last 3 years. We have pictures of improvements we ha e made. I also have bills with my name proof of using the property trying to get the next steps in getting it in my name.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Lloyd  Nolan
Lloyd Nolan

A: I am not licensed in Texas, so I cannot give you a definitive answer under Texas law. Nevertheless, the laws of many states are similar. In most states that adverse possession period is longer than 3 years. In most states the law requires adverse possession must be (1) continuous, (2) hostile or adverse, (3) actual, (4) open, notorious, and exclusive possession of the premises, (5) under claim of title inconsistent with that of the true owner. What this requires is a continuous holding and control of the property which is known to all and indicates that noone else has title. It should be under a claim of right or some sort of legal claim and in opposition to all others. I cannot speak as to Texas law, but in most states, title to land must be granted in writing. You indicate that the property was "verbally" given to you. It is my firm belief that this will not suffice. Paying the taxes would not give you the property. You might have done better to allow (assuming noone else paid them) the taxes to go unpaid and then purchase the property when the government puts it up for sale for unpaid taxes. It seems apparent that the heirs of the person who passed away are entitled to the property. You will not be able to defeat their interest(s) on a verbal statement and payment of taxes.

Roy Lee Warren
Roy Lee Warren
  • San Marcos, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Well, I must ask, is someone contesting your ownership? If not and the other parties are willing to part with their interest I would suggest preparing and filing "an affidavit of heirship". IT MAY DEPEND ON THE VALUE OF THE PROPERTY.

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