What Happens When Someone Has a Legal Claim to Your Property?
It’s not entirely uncommon to find out that someone else has a legal claim to your property in Alabama. It can be stressful and frustrating to know that you don’t have a legal claim to your property, especially when you are hoping to sell it or make alterations or additions to the property.
An experienced real estate attorney in Alabama can help you determine the best course of action to take in these situations.
Alabama Adverse Possession Concept
Adverse possession is a concept dating back to the Middle Ages. Based on this, thousands of property owners still continue to lose their property rights because of squatters or neighbors that have a tendency to encroach.
You may lose the property title to a trespasser or squatter that decides to stake a claim to ownership if all requirements are met. The same holds true if a neighbor with whom you share property boundaries decides to encroach on your land.
You should be aware of Alabama’s rule on adverse possession if you want to ensure your land remains yours. Alabama recognizes two types of adverse possession under Ala. Code Ann. § 6-5-200:
- Adverse possession with the color of title, based on a law passed by the state legislature
- Adverse possession by prescription, based on common law
These are a few circumstances when a trespasser can be deemed permissible for adverse possession:
- The trespasser actively manages or controls the property
- The trespasser uses the property without your permission
- The trespasser has not attempted to conceal their occupancy
- The trespasser pays taxes on the property in use
If any of the aforementioned circumstances continue for at least 10 years, you may have an adverse possession action against your property. Property owners can prevent the trespasser or a neighbor from staking a legal claim by initiating a quiet title action.
Retain Property Ownership by Using a Quiet Title Action
An unlawful encroachment on a property is usually the result of some sort of misunderstanding involving disputed property lines. The first step to take when you are worried about losing a legal claim to your property is to inform the trespasser that they are using your land without your permission.
You should allow them a reasonable opportunity for repairing any damage and removing personal property. Most people understand the situation and move on.
In case of a dispute, your next step should be to hire a qualified real estate attorney. Your lawyer will file a quiet title action for preventing the conversion of ownership.
Quiet title actions are basically lawsuits that request the court to authenticate the true ownership of the property. The most ideal outcome to this action will be for the judge to award the property in your favor.
There is always a risk of the other party prevailing in a quiet title action. You can ensure the merits of your case are presented clearly by hiring a qualified Alabama attorney.
Other Areas of Title Dispute Where Quiet Title Action Can be Helpful
Quiet title action can be used in a wide array of property disputes, with these being the most common:
- Estate Sale: To clear up claims on the ownership of titled property or real property following the death of the owner. This usually occurs in situations where there is insufficient proof that all heirs were notified of the estate sale.
- Removing Lienholders: Quiet title action can be filed if you have issues with a mortgage lender whose complete interest in the property has not been dealt with properly even though the loan has been paid off.
- Title Gaps: For clearing the title to a property that has not been occupied for some time.
- Easement & Boundary Disputes: Quiet title action can be used for sorting out issues related to land access imposed by disputed property liens and easement.
Settling tax issues on a property, fraudulent conveyance of the property by forged deed or coercion, or competing claims by reverters, lien holders, remainders, and missing heirs are a few other grounds for a quiet title action.
It’s important to understand that a quiet title action doesn’t allow the new owner the same level of protection as a clear title in most cases. The new owner cannot sue the previous owner of the property unless the property is acquired through a warranty deed.
In some jurisdictions, quiet title action cannot be used for clearing up all issues with the title. It may only be used for clearing up specific title defects or claims.
Talk to a Skilled and Knowledgeable Real Estate Attorney – Book Your Consultation Today
The Birmingham Law Group has the knowledge and experience that is needed to protect your property title rights. We have been serving a diverse set of clients throughout Alabama, including both individuals and businesses, for several years.
We will provide you with an in-depth legal evaluation of your situation. Call us at (205) 964-9764 or reach us online to set up an initial free consultation.
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