Simons, Thurman & Fix, P.C.

Serving Rockbridge County for 30+ Years!

Seven Ways to Help Prevent an Adverse Possession Claim

Owning a piece of land is often a symbol of stability and security. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you own your own little slice of America… a place you can call your own.

The concept of adverse possession can cast a shadow over property ownership, potentially leading to the loss of your valuable land. In Virginia, adverse possession can occur if someone else makes a legal claim to your property through continuous, “hostile”, and exclusive use over a specified period. To safeguard your property rights, it’s crucial to be proactive and take steps to prevent adverse possession suits. In this article, we’ll explore legal strategies to protect your land in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

1. Regularly Inspect Your Property

Frequent property inspections serve as a first line of defense against adverse possession claims. Regularly survey your land, identify boundaries, and address any encroachments promptly. This proactive approach can help prevent others from establishing a claim based on open and notorious possession.

2. Document, Document, Document

Maintain meticulous records of your property ownership documents, including deeds, surveys, and any other relevant paperwork. This documentation serves as irrefutable evidence of your ownership, making it more challenging for others to establish a claim of adverse possession. Although ownership can be defeated by Adverse Possession, having thoroughly recorded your ownership can help you organize your defense to an Adverse Possession lawsuit. Keep these records in a safe place and consider sharing them with a trusted legal professional for additional security.

3. Communicate and Cooperate

Establish open lines of communication with your neighbors. A friendly relationship can foster cooperation in resolving any boundary disputes before they fester and grow into adverse possession claims. Clearly define property lines and be willing to address any concerns or disagreements to maintain a positive and neighborly environment.

4. Permissive Use Agreements

In cases where there may be a dispute over property lines, consider entering into a Permissive Use Agreement with your neighbors. This legally binding document can establish the agreed-upon boundaries and prevent the unintentional transfer of property rights through adverse possession.

5. Use Your Land

Consistently use your property for its intended purpose. Regular and purposeful use of the land sends a clear signal that you are actively asserting your ownership rights. Neglecting your property may create an opportunity for others to claim adverse possession based on continuous use.

6. Posts, Both Sign and Fence

Install fences and appropriate signage to clearly demarcate your property boundaries. Visible and well-maintained physical barriers can discourage trespassers and reduce the likelihood of adverse possession claims. Ensure that fences comply with local regulations to avoid potential legal complications.

7. Talk To Your Lawyer

Seeking legal advice is a crucial step in preventing adverse possession. Consult with an attorney experienced in real estate litigation issues to review your property rights, address any concerns, and create a comprehensive strategy to safeguard your land. An experienced attorney can provide valuable insights into Virginia’s specific laws and help you take proactive measures.

Protecting your property from adverse possession requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach. By regularly monitoring your land, maintaining accurate records, fostering positive relationships with neighbors, and consulting with legal professionals, you can minimize the risk of adverse possession claims in Virginia. Taking these steps not only safeguards your property but also contributes to a secure and harmonious community.