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Colorado Adverse Possession Laws

Most states have what are called adverse possession laws, which allow trespassers to gain title to an otherwise neglected property under certain conditions and after a statutorily defined period of time has expired. These laws also are referred to as "squatters' rights" or "continuous trespassers' rights" and are rooted in common law. State adverse possession laws establish time periods for occupation, the time limit for landowners to challenge a squatter's claim, tax payment requirements, and whether the time limit is less when there is "color of title."

These laws help resolve neighbor disputes; prevent usable land from being neglected; and help minimize confusion over land ownership in the absence of official titles.

Adverse Possession Under Colorado Law

Colorado law requires the occupier (or "squatter") to openly be in possession of the property for 18 years, or after seven years of consistent payment of property taxes and color of title. The term color of title refers to some written document that shows a good faith believe that the possessor is legally entitled to the land, even if it fails to carry the necessary legal authority to do so. For example, a handwritten and signed document from 100 years ago transferring a house from one party to another may be considered color of title in some circumstances.

A reference to the corresponding code section and additional details are listed below. See FindLaw's Property Boundaries and Neighbor Disputes sections to learn more.

Code Section 38-41-101, et seq.
Time Period Required for Occupation 18 yrs.and Color of Title/Payment of Taxes: 7 yrs.
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 2 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes 7 years
Title from Tax Assessor -

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through legislation, ballot initiatives, or higher court rulings. Make sure you contact a Colorado real estate attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

What Are the Elements of an Adverse Possession Claim?

In order to claim title under adverse possession law, the claimant's possession of the property must be:

  1. Continuous
  2. Hostile to the interests of the owner of record (i.e., without permission)
  3. Open and notorious
  4. Actual (i.e., physically present on the property)
  5. Exclusive (one claimant for the entire statutory period)

Research the Law

Colorado Adverse Possession Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help with Your Adverse Possession Claim

Advserse possession claims are very complicated and involve a lot of moving parts best left to a legal professional. If you are planning to file an adverse possession claim, you would be advised to find a Colorado real estate attorney experienced in such matters.

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