As a property owner in Virginia, you want to protect yourself from losing the money you have already invested in the purchase, upkeep or improvement of your real property. You became the owner of that property by purchasing it or possibly inheriting it from a loved one who bought and paid for that real estate.
The idea of adverse possession or so-called squatter’s rights can make people worry that they might lose the asset that represents a significant portion of their household income and their personal wealth.
When is it possible for someone who does not technically own your home to go to court and try to claim ownership of your property?
Adverse possession requires years of living at a property
Virginia does allow those who have not followed traditional paths to ownership to eventually claim that they own a property. For someone not currently on the title for your property to claim an ownership interest based on staying there, they would typically need to live at the property for at least 15 years to bring an adverse possession claim in Virginia civil court.
If you have a disabling medical condition, the law extends extra protection to you. Specifically, someone would have to maintain open possession of the property that they want to claim for 25 years when you have a disabling medical condition.
Obviously, you will know if someone tries to take control of your primary residence. Adverse possession claims often occur at investment properties or vacation properties that people don’t visit anymore.
Understanding the rules that apply to different kinds of real estate matters will help you protect what you have invested in real property.