A real property owner can bring a trespass to try title case to dispute ownership of property. Requirements for a trespass to try title suit are explained in Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 783. The only issues involved are title and possession. The claimant must rely on the strength of his or her own title and not any weakness of the defendant's title. The claimant should seek an order that voids any adverse claim to vest clear title in the name of the claimant. To establish a proof of claim for trespass to try title, the claimant must prove one of the following:
1) Title from a common source
2) A regular chain of conveyances from the sovereign
3) Adverse possession
4) Prior possession that has not been abandoned
A trespass to try title action is the method for determining title to lands, tenements, or other real property. It is the exclusive remedy by which to resolve competing claims to property. Any suit involving a dispute over the title to land is an action in trespass to try title, whatever its form and regardless of whether legal or equitable relief is sought.
To establish entitlement to relief, a party has to prove that he or she actually and exclusively possessed the real property, as opposed to merely constructively possessing it. A plaintiff must show an initial actual possession of the real property.
A plaintiff in a trespass to try title action must prove initial actual possession to recover based on "prior possession." This applies even against a trespasser. Case law shows that evidence of constructive possession by deed and payment of taxes on the land did not prove actual possession.
One court held that to support a judgment based on prior possession, the possession must be so clearly defined as to give the claimant exclusive dominion over the property. It also held that actual and exclusive possession must have existed up until the very time of his or her actual dispossession. Evidence of possession may be: payment of taxes and the execution of mortgages, and oil and gas leases.
Contact a Houston, Texas, Lawyer for More Information About Bringing a Trespass to Try Title
To learn more about bringing a trespass to try title case or disputing ownership of property, please contact us online or call 713-454-7875.
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