A Texas man who reportedly claimed a $300,000 home for $16 through an obscure legal maneuver known as “adverse possession” is drawing attention to a practice that isn’t new and isn’t limited to the Lone Star State, but could become more popular with a housing market still flat on its back.
Adverse possession, which allows individuals to take property considered “abandoned,” has been around since the 1800s with its origins in British common law and to this day, all 50 states have statutory provisions on their books covering the concept.
It was originally used as a way to deal with the boundaries of farmlands that weren’t always clear. For example, if a homeowner put up a fence that encroached on a neighbor’s property, the homeowner could claim the territory after a period of time if there was no objection.
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