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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116780
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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What rights do sqatter have! I'm trying to sell my home.

Customer Question

what rights do sqatter have! I'm trying to sell my home.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 11 months ago.

Welcome and thank you for your question. I will be the professional that will be assisting you.

Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 11 months ago.

Can you tell me how long the squatters have been in your home or on your land. North Carolina has very specific requirements for adverse possession (squatters rights)

"North Carolina Squatter's Rights

Squatters' rights in North Carolina are addressed in the state's adverse possession laws. Adverse possession refers to the occupation of property belonging to another person without the owner's permission. If the squatter appears to be living on the property as a rightful occupant and fulfills every legal requirement of adverse possession, he may be able to eventually obtain title to the property as the legal owner...

Title Through Adverse Possession

North Carolina adverse possession laws require squatters to meet the strict requirements of the law:

  • Twenty years of continuous possession
  • Exclusive possession of the property, showing characteristics of a legal owner, such as residence and improvements
  • Display possession hostile to the owner by living openly on the property without the owner's consent

If a squatter meets all of these conditions for the statutory period, in this case 20 years, then he may obtain legal ownership."

Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 11 months ago.

"The legal doctrine known as "adverse possession" allows trespassers who openly inhabit and improve an otherwise abandoned piece of property to gain title to that property after certain conditions are met. For instance, North Carolina's adverse possession laws require an individual to occupy an otherwise neglected property publicly for at least 20 years, or seven years with "color of title" (meaning he or she has reason to believe they have the right to possess the property).

The following chart lists the main provisions of North Carolina adverse possession laws, and in-depth information follows.

Code Section1-38, et seq.; 1-17

Time Period Required for Occupation 20 yrs. and Color of Title: 7 yrs.

Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 3 yrs.


Justifications for Adverse Possession

One of the biggest justifications for adverse possession is that it gives title to the person who gives a beneficial use to the land. Rather than let the land go unused by the actual owner, the adverse possessor usually makes improvements to the land and doesn't let it sit around wasted.

Requirements for Adverse Possession in North Carolina

Every state has its own specifics for adverse possession, and North Carolina is no exception. The basic requirements for every adverse possession claim are open and notorious use, hostile claim, exclusive use, continuous use, using for the statutorily defined time period, and sometimes having "color of title"

Open and Notorious Use

North Carolina requires that trespassers use the land openly and publicly in order to make a claim. This gives the actual owner the opportunity to see the trespassers use, and tell the trespasser to leave if the owner is actually using the land.

Hostile Use

"Hostile" does not mean that there is any aggression between the trespasser and the actual owner. It means that the trespasser's use of the land has to be incompatible with the actual owner's use and ownership of the land. Generally, this must mean that the owner has not given the adverse possessor permission to use the land.

Exclusive Use

Just like actual ownership, the adverse possessor has to use the land exclusively in order to make a claim for the land. If the adverse possession claimant is only one of many people who use the land, they probably don't have a strong claim.

Continuous Use

The adverse possessor must use the land continuously, and not intermittently. This doesn't mean that they have to be on the land constantly, just that they have to use the land continuously like an actual owner would.

For the Statutory Period

North Carolina's statutory period for adverse possession is twenty years. This means that the adverse possessor must fulfill the above requirements for twenty years before they have a valid claim for adverse possession. If the adverse possessor has "color of title", the statutory period is seven years.

Color of Title

Color of title means that the adverse possessor has a document or reason to believe that the land is legally theirs. This is not a requirement in North Carolina, but will reduce the statutory period from twenty years to seven years."

They also need a court to place them on the title in a quiet title action to have real ownership to sell.

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter. It would be my pleasure to continue to assist you.

If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I will receive credit for my work I would appreciate it.

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Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 11 months ago.

Please ignore the additional services request. There is no additional charge for continuing with this question. Any feedback from you would be helpful to assist me in making sure I have answered your question and that you have the information you need.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am a DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTOR, as it seems your previous contributor had to leave. Did you have any further questions I can assist you with?