Most property owners in Colorado will require real estate in one of three ways. They may purchase it from a seller. They might buy it at a tax sale or foreclosure auction. They could also inherit the real estate from someone who dies.
A much smaller number of people sometimes secure property or expand their existing real estate holdings through adverse possession. In common language, adverse possession is known as squatter’s rights.
Adverse possession involves the legal right of someone living on a property without purchasing it to lay claim to the title of that property. How does adverse possession work in the state of Colorado?
Why adverse possession claims arise
When you buy a piece of real estate, you can go from your offer to closing in just a few weeks. It will take a lot longer to gain legal rights to a property based on an adverse possession claim.
To even have the right to make an adverse possession claim, you have to maintain continual and open possession of the property in question. That means you use the land or property without intervention by the person who holds title.
An abandoned, unimproved acreage that abuts your property would be an example. The owner never comes to use or inspect the property, you might eventually enclose part of it with fencing to expand your pastures. People could also make a claim against a property they may have a partial right to through an inheritance or an old deed.
It takes many years for a property to be subject to adverse possession claims
A person using a property will not be able to make a legal claim against a property occupied through adverse possession until you have openly and notoriously used that land for at least 18 years.
There is one situation in which someone with an adverse possession claim could be, the owner through court proceedings more quickly. When someone has paid the property taxes on a piece of real estate for seven years and has color of title, they may be in a position to make an adverse possession claim against the property.
Recognizing how long it takes to establish adverse possession can help you better monitor your own properties for claims that could affect your ownership or make better decisions about a property you utilize but do not formally own.