What Are Texas's Adverse Possession Laws?

Adverse possession law involves several different timelines and requirements in order to establish whether there is an adverse possession. The important factor is determining whether notice of use of the land was ever provided and how the other side responded. We often get calls from people asking, "how can I adverse possess some real property?" The answer is not as simple as you might think. Adverse possession claim is established when the facts show actual use and it is visible to other people. You want to be able to establish that the contesting "owner" had actual notice that the person in possession of the property has asserted a claim of right to the property. The legal question asked by lawyers is if the use was actual, open, notorious, exclusive, adverse, hostile, continuous, and uninterrupted for the applicable statutory period.

What are the statutory periods? They are outlined as follows:

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.024 (Three-Year Statute): A person [i.e., the original owner] must bring suit to recover real property held by another in peaceable and adverse possession under title or color of title not later than three years after the day the cause of action accrues.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.025 (Five-Year Statute):

(a) (a) A person [i.e., the original owner] must bring suit not later than five years after the day the cause of action accrues to recover real property held in peaceable and adverse possession by another who:

(1) cultivates, uses, or enjoys the property;
(2) pays applicable taxes on the property; and
(3) claims the property under a duly registered deed.

(b) This section does not apply to a claim based on a forged deed or a deed executed under a forged power of attorney.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.026 (Ten-Year Statute):

(a) A person must bring suit not later than 10 years after the day the cause of action accrues to recover real property held in peaceable and adverse possession by another who cultivates, uses, or enjoys the property.

(b) Without a title instrument, peaceable and adverse possession is limited in this section to 160 acres, including improvements, unless the number of acres actually enclosed exceeds 160. If the number of enclosed acres exceeds 160 acres, peaceable and adverse possession extends to the real property actually enclosed.

(c) Peaceable possession of real property held under a duly registered deed or other memorandum of title that fixes the boundaries of the possessor's claim extends to the boundaries specified in the instrument.

There is also a 25-year limitation regardless of whether the person is or has been under a legal disability.