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Is it true that squatters can claim land in Connecticut?

| Dec 29, 2020 | Real Estate |

Old laws that intended to encourage productive land use and discourage vacant land still apply in Connecticut and other states. 

Adverse possession may give someone the right to claim your property without a sale or without your permission if they have been actively occupying the land for long enough. Similarly, Connecticut adverse possession laws may enable you to retain property you have been using for many years if the owner has neglected it. 

Adverse possession in Connecticut

States approach adverse possession claims differently, and some have complex and lengthy requirements before a claim can be valid. In Connecticut, the requirement to bring an adverse possession claim is at least fifteen years of uninterrupted and exclusive use of the property by the non-owning party. 

But even meeting this requirement does not guarantee a successful claim. If the owner can claim a disability or other lawful excuse as to why he or she did not intervene during the 15-year window, the non-owning party may face barriers to acquiring ownership. 

It is difficult to make a successful adverse possession case. Most cases today address property line disputes and not entire properties or large portions of property. For example, if your neighbor built a fence over your property line by five feet, and you left it unaddressed for fifteen or more years, you may have forfeited your ownership of that portion of your land. 

Defenses to adverse possession

Once again, owners may have a valid defense to adverse possession if they can demonstrate that they failed to intervene because of a physical or cognitive disability, but they may also have a defense if they are legally minors or if they were unable to intervene due to incarceration or committal to an institution. In these cases, hopeful owners may face barriers to their claim or have to occupy the land for additional time. 

Certain properties are also exempt from adverse possession claims. These include railways and some waterways, land that belongs to nonprofits and certain other types of property.