Many Missouri land owners do not realize that they might be at risk of losing some of their precious land simply because they do not know or understand Missouri law. You may believe that you are simply being a good neighbor when you allow that neighbor to use your idle land for his own purposes, but beware! You need to know the law concerning adverse possession.
Any person can file a lawsuit against you to acquire legal title to YOUR land if he meets the following criteria:
- He has maintained actual possession of your land for ten years or more. This could simply mean that he was the one who mowed the grass on a particular parcel for ten years.
- He has maintained hostile possession of the subject real estate for more than ten years. Did he make it clear that he intended to exercise dominion over the land? Did he erect a fence around it. Did he act like he owned it. This does not mean that he has to threaten the legal owner. It simply means that he acts like he IS the owner for ten years or more.
- He must maintain open and notorious possession of the subject real estate for more than ten years. His possession or claim to possession cannot be hidden. His use of the land must be open to inspection. You have to be able to see or otherwise discern that he is in fact possessing your land and that he intends to do so.
- He must maintain exclusive possession of the subject real estate for more than ten years. This means that you or some other neighbor cannot be using the particular parcel of land for your own purposes. If you, for example, continue to use your own land, even though you allow another to use it too, you demonstrate that you have dominion over the land and another cannot wrench it from you via the legal means of adverse possession.
- The adverse possessor must maintain continuous possession of the subject real estate for more than ten years. Assume that you allowed your neighbor to use your land for five years, say from 1998 to 2003, and then you used the land again from 2003 to 2008. Now assume that your neighbor used the land again from 2008 to 2014 and the total time he used your land for both periods exceeds ten years. He cannot gain your land by adverse possession because he did not exercise dominion of your land for a continuous period of ten years or more.
Land owners, therefore, should always be cognizant of the boundaries and uses of their lands. Review your fence lines regularly. If you find someone using your land and it is okay with you, then draw up a simple lease agreement with that person that demonstrates that you still exercise dominion over it. Never remain silent when another person begins to dominate your own land. You may think you’re being a good neighbor. Ten years later he may show you that you have acted the fool!
“Local officials who abuse zoning authority powers to cower citizens into submission and deprive land owners of Constitutional rights in the enjoyment of their land must be subject to fines and actual damages they cause including attorney fees,” Delegate Bob Marshall noted in support of his HB 1219 recently introduced in the Virginia General Assembly.
Marshall introduced his bill in direct response to incidents precipitated by county officials who threatened Virginia citizen farmer Martha Boneta. Boneta gained national attention after she was cited and threatened with $5,000 per-day fines for hosting such ‘menacing activities’ as a birthday party for eight 10-year old girls without a permit and advertising pumpkin carvings. Virginians rallied at two “pitchfork protests” in support of Boneta.
Marshall said, “I am convinced this harassment will continue until local officials realize they can be held liable in the form of fines and other costs.” H.B. 1219 provides that local governments violating constitutional rights through zoning shall pay their victims (1) the amount of the fines they sought to impose, and (2) actual damages including attorney fees. Local government officials who intentionally violate this law would also be liable.
Martha Boneta said, “I am confident that I would not have been bullied by my county government had this bill been in place earlier, and I ask all Virginians to contact their delegates and senators to support H.B. 1219, which protects all of us.”
There is long-time precedent for remedies against government officials who abuse their power to violate the rights of citizens. H.B. 1219’s remedies mean Virginians don’t need to go broke protecting their rights on their own property.
In addition to authorizing private citizens to files suits for damages, H.B. 1219 allows the Virginia Attorney General to intervene on behalf of victims. It also provides whistleblower protections for government employees who expose violations of this law.
– See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/mark-fitzgibbons/property-rights-bill-introduced-after-va-woman-threatened-fines-kids#sthash.Hho3bOVc.VLORLDnY.dpuf
This is a very common sense approach to stop infringement upon citizen’s property rights. I suggest you urge your local Missouri Representative or Senator to sponsor and vote for similar legislation.
Perhaps you were visiting Missouri’s beautiful streams in Dent, Crawford, Shannon, Reynolds, Texas or Phelps County and received a speeding ticket driving there. Or maybe you were fishing on the Current, Big Piney, or Meramec River and a Department of Conservation agent discovered you did not have the right type of fishing license and then issued a ticket to you. If this has happened to you, then call Glenn Hall at the Hall Law Firm today. Depending on the circumstances Glenn should be able to resolve your particular legal issues quickly and effectively with little, if any, lasting effect upon your driving or legal records.
For good, competent legal help call Glenn Hall today at 573-729-2229.