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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33781
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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Step Grandmother paid property taxes on parents land for

Customer Question

Step Grandmother paid property taxes on parents land for over 25 years, when she passed she had a remaining sibling who did not pay the taxes, as step-grandchildren my sister and I have paid the taxes for the last 9 years, the parents did not leave a will, so recently grandchildren of the deceased parents have filed a heir paperwork with the court in the county of property, my sister and I would like to know is it possible for us to put a lien on the property to get our money back. The last sibling of the parents was put on the property and she went and had her name removed. I paid the taxes and put the property takes in care of myself. what are my rights or do I have any rights.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 month ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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, my sister and I would like to know is it possible for us to put a lien on the property to get our money back

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Unfortunately, since you and sister voluntarily paid the taxes and were under no legal obligation to do so, that would be considered a gift on your part to the legal owners of the property. You can't unilaterally impose a contractual obligation on the legal owners to repay you if they never agreed to do so in the first place.

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In order to be able to claim legal ownership of the property, you would have to have actually used it exclusively, excluding all others, for at least 20 years under VA "adverse possession" law. In Virginia the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years under Virginia Common Law.

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However, if step grandmother used the land exclusively for herself, and then when she passed, you took it over, you can add on her time of possession to your own under the legal doctrine of "tacking". So her 25 and your 9 would be well over the required amount of time.

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So you may be able to pursue an adverse possession claim where you claim legal ownership if you were to file a quiet title lawsuit against the legal owners and prove you have used the property for 9 years exclusively and step grandmother for at least 11+ more.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
When you say used the property, do you mean as her residents. The first time I went and paid the taxes the property had been turned back over to my deceased step-grandmother by the only living sibling. So the treasurers office told me to put the property in care of myself, and I asked if I continue to pay the taxes if the family decides to sell will I be reimburse my money, he told me I would be able to put a lien against the property, but you are stating that it would be considered as a gift. At the time I was given that information their were no listed heirs to the property, they just filed paperwork 3/16.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 month ago.

do you mean as her residents.

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No just that she was the only one using it and kept everybody else from doing so. For adverse possession, the person claiming it must have "exclusive and hostile possession" meaning that they are the only ones using it even though they don't legally own it.

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And no, the treasurer's office is wrong because no one agreed to repay you for any money you spent on the property. And in order to file a lien, you would have to sue the legal owner and get a judgment against them. And since the legal owner never agreed to reimburse you, you can't unilaterally impose an obligation on them to do so. That is kind of the danger in paying the taxes on property you don't own... If the legal owners come back and retake possession before you can legally claim ownership under adverse possession, then you have wasted your money gambling that you could eventually become the legal owner..

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I am sorry that the news isn't better, but your only recourse here as I see it is to file a quiet title lawsuit and try to claim legal ownership by adding on the step grandmother's use and possession on to yours.. You are probably looking at $4-5K for an attorney so it isn't cheap, but the property might be worth fighting for..

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thanks

Barrister

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