Trespassing onto someone else’s property is generally against the law, but there are situations where a trespasser could legally claim the property as their own. Adverse possession laws may allow a trespasser to stay on the land if they meet certain criteria.
Under Oregon law, a person can acquire fee simple title to a piece of property if they have possessed the land for a minimum of 10 years and the possession was actual, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and hostile.
Actual and continuous possession means that the adverse possessor must have physical possession of the land for 10 straight years. Open and notorious possession basically means that the adverse possessor must openly act as if he or she is the owner of the property. This behavior notifies the owner of the land of the trespasser’s presence on the land. The adverse passion also must be exclusive, in that the land is solely for the trespasser’s own use. Finally, the possession must be hostile, meaning that the trespasser actually infringed upon the property owner’s rights without permission from the owner.
Finally, an adverse trespasser in Oregon must have an honest belief that they were the actual owner of the property and that that belief was reasonable.
Filing a claim for adverse possession can be challenging, particularly due to the specific criteria required under Oregon law. An attorney specializing in real estate law in your area can review your case and let you know whether you have a legitimate claim. If your claim is successful, your rights to the property will be protected.