Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

on abondoned real estate where the owner has died and there is no one found on title search, and there are no clouds, do you still have to file quiet title and post in local paper, or will an Adverse Possession be enough

Asked on 8/10/11, 3:59 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Move in, put your name on the mailbox, pay the property taxes, live there, and pray hard for four years. Scan or save your utility bills and tax receipts offsite. After four years, if you are that lucky, file a lawsuit for quiet title.

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Answered on 8/10/11, 4:03 pm
Daniel Bakondi The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi

It is not exactly as simple. I have helped clients with adverse possession, including quieting title successfully after the requisite time, and am very familiar with these issues. You may send me an email, or take a look at the adverse possession section of my website for more information.


Daniel Bakondi, Esq.

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Answered on 8/10/11, 4:45 pm
George Shers Law Offices of Georges H. Shers

I disagree. If you are talking about a house, when you go into the house you are guilty of breaking and entering. How can you meet the elements of adverse possession when there is no one claiming ownership. After a while, the assets of the former owner escheat to the State and there is no adverse possession against the government. At some point, someone will probably try to take the house away from you. What greater rights do you have to the house then someone else who just walks in off the street.

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Answered on 8/10/11, 5:04 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

There is no such thing as "abandoned" real property in California, according to the Supreme Court. I can't cite the decision at the moment, but it is to the effect that "someone" owns all real property in California.

Next, Mr. Stone is wrong when he says four years. Adverse possesion takes five years. After the five years is up, and you have been in continuous, open and notorious, and adverse possession of the property and paid the taxes all that time, you can then file a suit to quiet title in yourself. Every conceivable person who might claim an ownership interest must be determined, named as a defendant, and served. It isn't easy or cheap.

The meanings of terms in the adverse possession law are somewhat technical. For example, being "in possession" continuously for five years doesn't mean you can't take a trip to the grocery store without interrupting the continuity.

I would consider it extremely risky to try to establish ownership of urban property that seems to be "abandoned" by adverse possession. Among other things, the record owner may reappear in the 59th month and have you arrested for trespass. Bye-bye, four years of tax payments!

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Answered on 8/10/11, 9:52 pm

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