For many individuals and even families in Minnesota, farm or ranch land is the biggest household asset. Whether you bought your own property or took over the family farm, you want to protect every acre of your land for yourself and possibly future generations.
Good maintenance, annual tax payments and insurance could all help protect your property from claims by others. However, there is still a way that an unscrupulous neighbor could potentially try to lay claim to your property.
Adverse possession is the legal term for someone squatting on another person’s land and then claiming it as their own through court proceedings. Do you have to worry about where your neighbor places their fence?
Letting someone else use your control your property could impact your ownership
Under Montana’s adverse possession law, someone who uses a property while believing they have a legal right to that land could eventually go to court and ask for the courts to allocate it to them. However, there are very strict restrictions on when adverse possession affects someone’s property right.
Generally, the person making the claim needs to maintain open and obvious possession of the property in question for at least 5 years. If the owner evicts them or if they leave the property and then later resume tenancy, those actions could affect their right to make an adverse possession claim. When an owner has a serious disability, the claimant will have a much harder time trying to assume ownership of the property.
For those in good health, however, there is an expectation that they will maintain and inspect their properties. Ignoring squatters on your property or overlooking a fence that is clearly on your side of the property line could eventually mean that the other party can claim ownership of that land.
You don’t have to endure someone improperly utilizing your land
Even if the fence is only a few feet over the boundary between your properties, a misplaced fence could lead to bigger issues in the future. It could mean the loss of ownership and control over some of the land that you own.
Thankfully, there are ways to defend against adverse possession claims, even if you haven’t evicted the party. Acting to protect yourself from boundary violations before they persist for years can help protect your real estate.