For many people in Connecticut, real estate purchases are the most valuable assets they will ever buy or retain. Your home or an unimproved property could represent not just a space where you live or hope to eventually build a home, but also an investment that could help fund your retirement or provide the basis for your legacy after you die.

You most likely intend to protect your investment and either sell it for a profit or pass it along to others in your family later in life. Unfortunately, there are many ways in which you could lose out on your real property, potentially without even receiving any compensation for it.

Eminent domain or the seizure of real estate by government authorities is one way, although the law requires reasonable reimbursement of the fair market value of any property seized. Adverse possession by a neighbor or even a total stranger is another way in which you could lose your property rights, possibly without any compensation, unless you push back in court.

What is adverse possession?

Those unfamiliar with the term adverse possession may recognize the more colloquial phrase “squatter’s rights,” which refers to the same legal concept. Adverse possession refers to the rights of an individual to claim a property not inhabited by or maintained by the actual owner. Typically, those claiming adverse possession will need to take legal action to assert their rights and legal ownership of a property they never purchased.

How does someone claim adverse possession in Connecticut?

For someone to request a change in the ownership status of a piece of property based on adverse possession in Connecticut, they need to demonstrate that they have openly and solely maintained possession of that real estate for at least 15 years. In some cases, living on or farming a piece of unimproved land would qualify as adverse possession.

However, it doesn’t need to be something as sneaky or surprising as that. Placing a structure or a fence over a property boundary could also be a means of increasing someone’s real estate holdings without paying for the property in question. If your neighbor has attempted to infringe on your property by going over boundary lines with the construction of a garage or a fence, you need to take swift action or risk losing a portion of your property to adverse possession claims in the future.