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When can someone claim adverse possession of New Jersey land?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Real Estate Law

Someone who purchases or inherits real property in New Jersey will have a financial interest in preserving their ownership rights. Typically, those who own real property have the right to use the property, leverage it as collateral for a loan or sell it to other people. 

Occasionally, the actions of another party can limit the control or use of real property by the original owner. An adverse possession claim occurs when one party alleges that their use of the property effectively makes them the new owner of the property. 

Every state has unique adverse possession laws. When is someone’s interest in a property at risk in New Jersey? 

There are different rules for different situations

New Jersey actually has one of the strictest adverse possession statutes in the United States. Someone trying to gain control over another person’s real property will need to be very patient. Typically, those making a claim due to their continual use of a property without the permission of the owner would need to have evidence that they have utilized the property for at least 30 consecutive years. 

If the property in question is woodland, then the party claiming adverse possession needs to remain there for at least 60 years. That possession period may decrease to the standard 30 years if someone adversely possessing woodland property has color of title or documents that seem to support their ownership claim. 

The one scenario in which adverse possession may occur more quickly is when the person occupying the land has color of title and has paid the real estate taxes on the property. In that case, they would only need to wait five years to initiate adverse possession proceedings. 

Swiftly responding to any property incursions will help protect owners from future claims of adverse possession made by squatters.