‘Property is organized robbery’-George Bernard Shaw. The right to prevent obtruding by putting signs, fences is present with homeowners. If there is usually repeated annoyance, the police protect people from the negligent act of trespassing. Sometimes there is a difficult circumstance wherein the law protects those who have gained possession of the property in an illegal manner. Basically, law shields the wrongdoer.
What is adverse possession of the property?
A method of gaining legal title to the property by the actual, open, hostile, and constant possession of it to exclusion of its real owner for the period prescribed by state law.
Effect of Adverse Possession- While adverse possession alone does not result in a transfer of legal title, adverse possession gives a person a complete property right in the area possessed. Once an individual meets the legal requirements for adverse possession, he/she may initiate a quiet title action and get legal title to the property. The actual owner loses the title to ownership of his own period after a statutory limitation of 12 years or 30 years for private and public property respectively (Section 65, Limitation Act,1863) and he is barred from initiating any legal proceedings to repossess his property. Internationally the limitation period is 30 years.
Essentials to prove adverse possession- The various requirements to establish adverse possession of the property are as follows –
• Continuity in adverse possession
• Hostile possession
• Actual possession
• Open and notorious
The right to adverse possession is not possible in all situations. For instance, title to government-owned land may not be acquired by adverse possession. This right is not absolute. The law presumes that every possession starts legally i.e. was permissive unless proved to the contrary. Practically speaking, a peaceful property possession for a period is the prima facie proof of the title enough for the maintenance of the claim of a party, unless the opposite party can show a genuine title. It is on this policy on which the Doctrine of the Adverse Possession rests. Adverse possession is commenced in the wrong and is aimed against the right. Possession is night points in law; the difference between possession and adverse possession is- possession implies dominion and control and the consciousness in mind of the person having authority over an object that he has it and can use it. On the other hand, a possession to be adverse, the possession not by the real owner, but by an individual who complains or denies the right of the actual owner and his title over the property.
Latest Judgement – On 19th April 2017 the Supreme Court (SC) in Dagadabai vs Abbas, has held that an individual claiming adverse possession must necessarily first admit the ownership of the actual owner over the estate to the knowledge of the real owner.
Thus, ‘No man acquires property without acquiring with it a little arithmetic also’
Property owners need to be careful about defining the period for which the occupant can stay, to safeguard their property rights. It is always helpful to seek legal advice from property lawyers.