Adverse Possession: How to Acquire a Property Without Buying
Are you occupying a lot that is not yours legally or residing at a property with no one claiming ownership? Whichever the case may be, you're in the right place. If you're wondering if you can get a title for a lot you have been occupying for a long time, the answer is "yes." But how do you get a title for a property that is not yours?
How can you claim it if you don’t have any documents proving ownership? To find out, read on as we share how to acquire a property via adverse possession.
What is Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession refers to a legal process where a non-owner who occupies or possesses a piece of land of another person is granted a right to obtain title and ownership of the said property after residing for a certain period. Under this process, the occupant or possessor can apply for the property's title given they meet certain conditions, whether they continuously possess the property or infringe the rights of the true landowner.
Despite unlawfully occupying unused or uninhabited land, adverse possession gives illegal settlers the right to acquire property without buying. Hence, it's often called squatter's rights or homesteading. Nonetheless, an occupant or disseisor must prove they meet several criteria, which may vary per state before the court allows their claim. For instance, most states require the claimant to provide a deed and proof of payment for the property’s taxes.
Each state also has a different statutory period for adverse possession. For example, the state's predetermined statutory period is twenty (20) years. Adverse possession will be successful if the claimant or occupant continuously and exclusively uses or possesses the property. But the disseisor or occupant's claim under adverse possession will be invalidated if the true landowner performs or pays any maintenance on the property in the 19th year.
Although this process may provide rights to non-owners, landowners can prevent adverse possession by taking necessary measures and fulfilling their obligations to their property. On the other hand, the law may favor the adverse possessor as a reward for productively using the land, given the true landowner sleeps on their rights. Therefore, you may acquire a property without buying it, given you meet the statutory requirements for adverse possession. You can even obtain legal title to claim ownership of the said property.
How to Acquire Property via Adverse Possession?
As stated in the Republic Act 10023, or " An Act Authorizing the Issuance of Free Patents to Residential Lands," a Filipino will obtain the right to get a title for a property that they have been occupying for a long time, given they have been staying at it for over ten (10) years. Furthermore, the property must be classified as alienable and disposable, which means it's not a protected land and not yet titled under other people’s names.
This law aims to provide Filipinos with legal and titled residence. At the same time, the law punishes landowners who don’t use their property productively. But do note, acquiring a property through adverse possession can only be done once in your residence address where you've been residing for over ten (10) years. You must also comply with requirements before acquiring a property via adverse possession.
Through RA 10023, you may apply for a title given the property you've occupied for more than ten (10) years meets the required land size based on the city or municipality of location. Most importantly, the property should not be needed for public use or service before the court allows your claim. Thus, you should meet and comply with the qualifications and requirements to apply for a Free Patent Title under RA 10023.