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Possession of Rural Land After Tax Sale

Posted by 15789465 on

Many of you ask me, "How do you possess rural land after a tax sale?"  If neither you,  nor a tenant, wants to pitch a tent and live there, what do you do?

The 1983 Alabama Supreme Court case of Hurt v. Given, which involved tax sale property, helps answer this question. The court said:  "Land need only be used by an adverse possessor in a manner consistent with its nature and character--by such acts as would ordinarily be performed by the true owners of such land in such condition. The specific question to be answered then is what acts would ordinarily be performed by the true owners of what the record shows to be rural, wooded land."

In that case, not much had been done on the land except sporadically cutting timber for firewood. That wasn't enough. BUT, the court said the plaintiffs HAD done something that was enough. They marked the boundaries.  This is what the court said, "Most importantly, plaintiffs manually marked the entire 200-acre tract, including the 40-acre disputed tract. They did so by cutting trees, marking them with orange paint, and then clearing the undergrowth along the boundary so that the marks could be seen. ... On an annual basis, plaintiff, Jack Given, walked over the land to inspect the timber and boundary markers. Marking of boundaries, taken together with other acts, may constitute possession."

To the lawyers, if you want to read the entire decision, it is at 445 So.2d 549 (Ala. 1983)

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  • GREAT to have you at Equity class at Birmingham School of Law. Students said it was a great topic and talk, Thank You for speaking with us!

    Greg Stanley on
  • Hi Greg, I really enjoyed talking to your class last night. Would love to come back any time.

    Denise L. Evans on
  • “Actual, open, notorious, exclusive, adverse, and continuous.”

    Greg Stanley on
  • Howie, I think planting crops is a good idea. I cannot advise you of ways to take possession that are designed to fly under the radar without tipping off the owner that you are taking possession. The whole point of the possession requirement is to tip off the owner.

    Denise L. Evans on
  • how about planting (legal) crops on vacant land? Of course you already know the ongoing “howie question” – how do you take adverse possession in such a way that a trial court should find clear title for you, but in such a way that a reasonable taxpayer won’t discover you have taken adverse possession? all credible ideas are welcome

    howie on

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