Q: I’ve been maintaining an empty lot next to my property for eight years. I keep the walks clear of snow and ice in the winter and mow the lawn.

Can I claim this lot as mine under the homestead law and if so how do I go about this? My understanding is a company owns this lot and there are at least 13 quick claim deeds. Thanks for any information.

A: I don’t know where you live, but when it comes to acquiring property by adverse possession, you have to do more than just clear the snow and mow the lawn.

You typically have to pay property taxes as well, and do it for as long as 21 years, depending on the state. (In some states, you can obtain title to a property in as little as seven years.) Since it doesn’t sound as though you pay the taxes on this property and other important factors go into determining adverse possession, you probably don’t have a claim to the property under adverse possession. But why don’t you approach the owner about purchasing this piece of property? The company may be just as happy to get rid of it.

If you truly think you have a right to ownership of the land, you need to seek out the help of a real estate attorney.

June 24, 2007