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Oregon Adverse Possession Laws

Nothing in life is free, some say, but in rare circumstances, you truly can get land for free. This legal concept is adverse possession, where you essentially trespass and live on someone else’s private property without permission for a long enough time that it becomes your property. The general requirements of adverse possession in Oregon are:

  • Actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile (against the actual landowner's interest), and continuous possession of the property (grazing livestock on the property isn’t enough to claim possession)
  • Since 1990, the person claiming the property entered into possession on the honest and reasonable, but mistaken belief he or she was the actual owner of the property (for example, purchased 50 acres, thought an extra few acre in the middle was also theirs, but wasn’t or bought a false deed from a con artist and lived on the property for 15 years before anyone noticed the issue

For more information on adverse possession laws in Oregon, see the table below.

Code Section Oregon Revised Statute Section 105.620 – Acquiring Title by Adverse Possession
Time Period Required for Occupation The time limit or statute of limitations to sue for recovery of the possession of real property is 10 years. That means, if you’ve resided on a plot of land for over 10 years, the person claiming to be the rightful owner has lost the chance to sue to evict you from the land. It’s now yours.
Time for Landowner to Challenge and Effect of Landowner's Disability The statute of limitation for adverse possession (or other actions) can be tolled or suspended for certain periods of time if the person is under a disability where they can’t be expected to defend himself or herself. Legal disabilities for this include being a minor under 18 years old or being found insane.

The longest the time limit to sue can be suspended for being a minor when the adverse possession of one’s property occurred is 5 years or 1 year after turning 18. However, the 10 year limit is extended for as long as the person is insane if mental illness is the reason for the suspension of a real property action. Once the person’s sanity is restored, such as he or she is released from the mental health facility they were residing at for many years, the limit is then 1 year.
Co-Tenants Often, you can’t claim adverse possession over other tenants who co-own the same property as you. However, in Oregon this is possible if you have continuous possession of the property, excluded all the other tenants in common for an uninterrupted period of 20 years or more, and have paid all taxes on the property while in possession. No noticed of the exclusion must be sent to the other tenants in common or their predecessors or heirs.
Railroad Property A person can’t acquire property owned by a railroad or used for railroad operations by adverse possession in Oregon.

The table above is a cursory overview that doesn’t provide a complete picture of adverse possession. To address any specific property-related issues you’re experiencing, it’s best to consult with a well-respected Oregon real estate lawyer.

Note: State laws often change over time, so you should contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to confirm the accuracy of these laws.

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