The vast majority of people who own real estate in Georgia either purchased or inherited that property. However, there are occasionally people who lay claim to real estate owned by someone else and convince the courts that they should become the official owner.
The house that you live in likely isn’t vulnerable to such claims. However, investment real estate, especially undeveloped land, could be at risk of someone else trying to claim it. When can someone who doesn’t own the property try to become the legal owner of it in Georgia?
Georgia has strict adverse possession laws
The legal term for when someone wants to claim ownership of your property despite never paying for it is “adverse possession.” Essentially, because they have used and openly possessed a property that technically belongs to someone else, they then try to make a legal claim of ownership. Some states have very generous laws when it comes to adverse possession, but not Georgia.
The individual claiming adverse possession would need to have used the property without your knowledge and without interruption for a full 20 years. They need to have openly used the property, and they will need proof that they did. The only exception to that rule is if they have color of title, which means documentation that creates a presumption of an ownership interest. If someone has color of title, they may be able to initiate adverse possession proceedings in Georgia after just seven years.
Frequently inspecting your property and maintaining its boundaries can help protect you against adverse possession claims and other issues that could affect your real estate and possibly lead to litigation.