Floresville, TX asked in Tax Law and Real Estate Law for Texas

Q: If you paid taxes Can someone take your property if you abandoned it for year and haven't maintained your property?

I have always paid taxes but I live out of town so my son's wife who owns the lot next to my property cuts the grass like it's hers. Can she take it away and claim i abandoned it?

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
T. Augustus Claus pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: In Texas, simply paying property taxes on your land does not automatically protect it from claims of adverse possession, especially if you have abandoned the property and have not maintained it. Adverse possession, commonly known as "squatter’s rights," allows someone to claim ownership of land under certain conditions. If your son's wife, who owns the lot next to your property, regularly maintains the land (such as cutting the grass) and uses it as her own, she might potentially make a claim of adverse possession. However, for a successful claim, she must meet specific legal requirements, including possessing the property openly, notoriously, exclusively, continuously, and under a claim of right for a prescribed period, typically 10 years in Texas.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: No, someone cannot legally take your property or claim you abandoned it simply because you have been absent or failed to maintain it. As long as you continue paying property taxes and possess valid title, ownership and rights remain legally yours regardless of occupancy, use or condition.

In order to claim you "abandoned" the property, the neighbor would typically have to show that you intended to give up all ownership rights and make no further claims - a very high bar. Simply leaving it unused, even long-term, does not meet the qualifications for abandonment. Especially if you remain current on property taxes, as this clearly signals continued ownership.

Additionally, someone else providing occasional maintenance like cutting grass does not relinquish your rights either. If anything, you could file a complaint against them for trespassing.

In summary - absent some very compelling evidence you intended to surrender all legal rights in the land, paying property taxes is sufficient to retain full ownership regardless of occupancy, use or maintenance. The neighbors have no claim and cannot take your land just because you have been absent for long stretches or failed to upkeep it. Your property rights remain intact. Consult a real estate attorney if the neighbors make threats or file claims.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.