Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction! It sounds like she is claiming the property based on adverse possession. However, according to VA statute 8.01-237 this requires 15 years of constant possession in order to do so. Such possession must be open and notorious,and 'hostile" to the real owner. This means without permission. If these requirements are not met, then there would be no claim to the land. A legal proceeding for specific performance (return keys, vacate property) would need to be initiated.
Hi, About the 'adverse possession', I'm not clear on that. Could you break that down a little more? My thinking is that Ms.Thomas thinks she has rights to the property because she spent her own money to remodel kitchen, new roof, etc.
Generally a tenant voluntarily improves the property, unless there is an agreement to the contrary (ie reimbursement). Adverse possession is also referred to as "squatter rights". It's when a person tries to take legal ownership of property that they occupy, even though they never "paid" for the property. If the heirs were aware of the improvements and "acquiesced" (let her keep doing the improvements without making it clear that they would not reimburse her), it is possible that a judge would order reimbursement for money expended, or for the amount it increased the property value. However, again, generally that requires the owner's approval and most judges will not allow a tenant to claim compensation for improvements that they made on their own.
Thank you for the clarification.
You are welcome! I'm glad you pointed it out!
Are you saying that we'd have to hire attorney to initiate return keys, vacate property?
You can first send a demand letter stating your interest in the property, and request the voluntary return of keys after the property is vacated (and a time frame for doing so). If this fails, then unfortunately you would need to hire an attorney. However, many judges will award attorney fees and costs in order to "restore" the plaintiffs to the position they should have been in but for the necessity of bringing legal action.
Thanks for your assistance; very useful information. Enjoy the rest of your day!
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