Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 28
  1. #1

    Default Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Lot

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Texas

    I am asking this for someone else, so I might not have all the exact details. I may say "we" because I do have an interest in the land, but I am not the one taking adverse possession.

    To begin:
    The property in question had been abandoned for a long time. It is about 2 acres, heavily wooded, with a creek dividing it and lined by a public road. There is no house on this property, and it neighbors our own, although, because the creek sometimes floods and we do have a house on our property, we walled off our property to prevent the creek from flooding into it.

    Because it is a heavily wooded area, we had been having rodent problems and have tried to keep the property clean as best as possible. In the past couple of years, we've had the fire department and the sheriff get after us for burning what we cleaned up on the property, to which we had told them to look for the owners of the property to clean it up, or for the city to come and do it. Nothing was ever done.

    When we took interest in the land, we discovered that no taxes had been paid on the property since 1996. As far back as we could remember, we have used this property, honestly, as "trespassers" because we didn't know who owned the land, and no one had ever told us to get off it nor were there ever any "No Trespassing" signs ever posted up. In short, we suspected there might be owners and who they might be, but for the most part thought it might belong to the government since no one ever told us anything.

    Well, last year we decided to investigate to see who the property belonged to. Here it is unclear to me what happened, but from what I've been told, the property didn't exist, the account had been deleted or it didn't have an owner or something of that sort. They had to create a new account for it so we could pay the taxes on it. They told us the "board" had to vote on it as to whether we could get the account under our name, and they approved, allowing us to only have to pay for 5 years of the unpaid taxes as opposed to going back all the way to 1996 and before.

    Unfortunately, about a few days after getting the adverse possession affidavit, getting the surveyors to measure the property, and gifting the property to heirs (gift deed) as we were advised, luck would have it that the city would come and try and clean the land. When we informed them they were trespassing, they said they were "just cleaning up", to which we told them that we'd have no problem with that if they could use their heavy equipment to clear the whole two acres which were heavily wooded. Like I said, we'd been trying to clear it up, but without heavy equipment, it would have taken years due to it being more of a forest!

    But someone told their boss, who happened to be the commissioner, and the commissioner came to get on our case because he said the land was not ours. We got into it with the commissioner because he had no business in this, he claimed he did because it was "money coming out of his pocket". It turns out, he was trying to claim the property through adverse possession too, but he didn't realize he was too late.

    Well, I guess he figured that if he couldn't have it, neither would we, and he goes and looks for whom he believed were the owners of the property. It turns out, they are NOT the owners of the property. They have papers for "Tract B", but not for the property being disputed, "Tract A".

    The people fighting for the property are not the owners, BUT, they are nephews to the owners. The "real" owners are deceased. The nephews had NEVER shown any interest in the property for as long as we've known them. So far, they have only been able to produce paper work for "Tract B", and their only claim to "Tract A" is verbal. Now, like I said, we have paid the taxes on Tract A for the past 5 years (but in a lump sum), the account is in our name, we have the Affidavit of Adverse Possession, witness to us having used the land for more than 10 years, notarized witness statements to our use of the land in the past two years, and two gift deeds because we split the 2 acres and gave each 1 acre to two heirs. Since the commissioner told them about our claims, the nephews came and posted "No Trespassing" signs, which we have taken down. They came and have harassed us and called the cops on us, to which the police could do nothing about it because we showed them that we have possession of Tract A. The cop said they only showed him for Tract B. Supposedly, the cop informed them that the only way they could resolve this is if they take us to court where a judge will decide.

    So, my question is, what are our chances if we have to go to court? Do the nephews have a say in this if they are not the "real" owners, but I guess you could say they are the "heirs"? Now, I'm taking it that this property was supposedly deleted because the taxes were so delinquent that the city probably took possession of it and forgot about it (and might explain why they had to vote on whether to give it to us or not), or something of that sort. If that is the case, would that eliminate their right to inheritance if we already paid the taxes and have the rest of the paper work for it? The guy helping us out is not a lawyer, but he has experience and claims we shouldn't even be losing sleep over this because there is nothing they can do. In his words, "The land is not theirs. The property was deleted and they have no claim over it."

    So far, we are waiting for them to serve us, but they've done more talking than doing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Do We Have a Good Chance to Claim the Land

    The people fighting for the property are not the owners, BUT, they are nephews to the owners. The "real" owners are deceased.
    they may have a legal interest in the land though as possible heirs to the now deceased owner.


    the city was not trespassing, at least by your notice. Until you hold title to the land, you cannot claim the rights of ownership.


    You also do not have the right to take down no trespassing signs posted by an entity you do not know if they have a legal interest in the land or not. You could be charged with a crime for that action.

    basically, if you want to claim title to the land and the nephews are willing to argue it in court, that is where it will be decided. You have not given a timeline for your actions. Their right to claim the land is limited.

    How much money are you or the nephews willing to spend to claim the land? That is often what it comes down to.


    In his words, "The land is not theirs. The property was deleted and they have no claim over it."
    land does not get " deleted". The tax records are irrelevant to this issue. What is important is what the register of deeds has recorded concerning this land. Have you ever done a title search to determine the true owner?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Lot

    This is what happens when 3 different parties attempt to get possession of land with unclear title. You pay your money and take your chances. If you want a sure thing, go buy land with an undisputed title.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Do We Have a Good Chance to Claim the Land

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    the city was not trespassing, at least by your notice. Until you hold title to the land, you cannot claim the rights of ownership.
    But doesn't the heir we gifted the property to have title to the land? We do have a gift deed saying so and so was gifted the land with a description, location, and measurements of the property.




    You also do not have the right to take down no trespassing signs posted by an entity you do not know if they have a legal interest in the land or not. You could be charged with a crime for that action.
    Reference last question/answer. As far as we know, the legal owner is our heirs because the property was gifted to them. The property papers they are showing us do NOT include the property in dispute. I, however, have the map and the gift deeds showing that the property in dispute belongs to our heirs. However, I am saying this from my point of view. I do not know if there is something I am not aware of here.

    basically, if you want to claim title to the land and the nephews are willing to argue it in court, that is where it will be decided. You have not given a timeline for your actions. Their right to claim the land is limited.
    I am not sure what you are saying here, other than we were told to wait for THEM to serve us because they will be forced to pay for all the expenses, something they might find tedious and give up on. If we do it, then the money will be coming out of our pockets.

    How much money are you or the nephews willing to spend to claim the land? That is often what it comes down to.
    We are willing to see this to the very end. We were hoping for a peaceful resolution, and when we were told the nephews were looking for us, we were willing to talk to them. Unfortunately, they never gave us an opportunity to explain what happened. They immediately became rude and vulgar, threatening us with violence, and because we have already invested in the property, we are willing to fight for it to the very end. If the judge decides against us, then so be it.


    land does not get " deleted". The tax records are irrelevant to this issue. What is important is what the register of deeds has recorded concerning this land. Have you ever done a title search to determine the true owner?
    Yeah, that's what I have yet to get a clear story on, but I do believe a property search was done, and that is what they were referencing. They have said, "The property was not on the map", "It was not showing on the map", "There is no account for it", "The property was deleted", etc. I'll try to see if I can get a straight story on what they meant. Looking at the map they had at the appraisal district, all the lands around it have an owner to it, but this one was blank. Now, it's not to say there were no records for it, as they had to dig deep in their files to find a paper copy, but apparently, this was very unusual to them and they claimed they'd never seen this happen.

    Now, I did the property search myself on TaxNetUSA and several other places using the Parcel number for the property and nothing shows up. We get information for all the surrounding properties except this one. From what we were told at the Appraisal District, it seems this property, because it is in a flood zone and prone to flooding, instead of applying a lien or selling it off to auction, it was deleted to prevent it from accumulating taxes. Now, I am not too sure on this, but I am sure something had to have gone wrong. A property doesn't just go with it's taxes unpaid for more than ten years with the city not applying a lien or selling it off to auction, or so I think, as I don't know much of this stuff. But if I am right, why would the city allow more than ten years of unpaid taxes without putting a tax lien on it? Instead, the account gets deleted?

    Anyways, maybe I am not searching in the right place or using the right information? Do you have any suggestions where I can search online and what information I should use? Like I said, the Parcel number is not producing anything for me, and I know I have it right as I have all the paper work in front of me :S

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Do We Have a Good Chance to Claim the Land

    iammetx;694053]But doesn't the heir we gifted the property to have title to the land? We do have a gift deed saying so and so was gifted the land with a description, location, and measurements of the property.
    No. You cannot give something you don't own.






    Reference last question/answer. As far as we know, the legal owner is our heirs because the property was gifted to them.
    wrong

    The property papers they are showing us do NOT include the property in dispute. I, however, have the map and the gift deeds showing that the property in dispute belongs to our heirs. However, I am saying this from my point of view. I do not know if there is something I am not aware of here.
    apparently there is. You cannot give land that you don't to another.



    I am not sure what you are saying here, other than we were told to wait for THEM to serve us because they will be forced to pay for all the expenses, something they might find tedious and give up on. If we do it, then the money will be coming out of our pockets.
    if they sue you, you will either have to defend your claim or lose. It can get quite expensive quite quickly.








    Now, I did the property search myself on TaxNetUSA and several other places using the Parcel number for the property and nothing shows up.
    none of that has anything to do with legal ownership. A tax ID, a named liable party for the taxes, or anything else having to do with taxes has nothing to do with legal ownership.

    We get information for all the surrounding properties except this one. From what we were told at the Appraisal District, it seems this property, because it is in a flood zone and prone to flooding, instead of applying a lien or selling it off to auction, it was deleted to prevent it from accumulating taxes.
    government owned property does not accrue taxes so there is no need to "delete" a parcel.

    Now, I am not too sure on this, but I am sure something had to have gone wrong. A property doesn't just go with it's taxes unpaid for more than ten years with the city not applying a lien or selling it off to auction, or so I think, as I don't know much of this stuff. But if I am right, why would the city allow more than ten years of unpaid taxes without putting a tax lien on it? Instead, the account gets deleted?
    deleting a tax ID does not alter ownership of the land.

    Anyways, maybe I am not searching in the right place or using the right information? Do you have any suggestions where I can search online and what information I should use? Like I said, the Parcel number is not producing anything for me, and I know I have it right as I have all the paper work in front of me
    You will have to do a title search at the Register of Deeds in the county the property is located. This is generally not a do it yourself process since you are actually looking to follow the chain of title for many many years. Only after the title history is researched and studied can a true owner be identified.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,584

    Default Re: Do We Have a Good Chance to Claim the Land

    I agree with all of jk's comments.

    Further to that, the OP's filing of an Affidavit of Adverse Possession in Texas acts to start the tolling of the statutory period required. It does not grant any interest in title. If claiming under the five year rule, the five years does not start until the affidavit has been filed. The five year rule also requires that taxes be paid on the parcel, and with no parcel ID, that has not happened. So the OP now moves to the ten year rule. I don't know the date of the filing of the affidavit, but it will be ten years from that before he can go to a court and ask that title be quieted in him.

    In the mean time the actual owners or their heirs or assigns can appear and eject the OP (or his "giftees") as trespassers. I hope that the OP has had good legal advice about filing affidavits and gift deeds.

    As for the chain of title, the OP has filed an Affidavit of Adverse Possession which should have a current survey attached as "Exhibit A". That survey should reference a recorded instrument showing the most recent owner of record. If deceased or otherwise missing, a title company or attorney can investigate and find the actual owners. If you are years away from your statutory requirements for AP, your best bet to acquire the property is to negotiate a purchase. It sounds as if some of the heirs may already be preparing for an ejectment suit. If you have not met the statutory requirements for AP, you can be ejected.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Lot

    This is where you are going wrong.
    "The guy helping us out is not a lawyer"
    These are not the type of things that can be properly done w/o a lawyer.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Lot

    Quote Quoting LandSurveyor
    View Post
    If claiming under the five year rule, the five years does not start until the affidavit has been filed.
    I am assuming it would be the 5 year rule as the affidavit includes witnesses stating they have seen us living on the property for the last five years, which is confusing to me why they would say 5 when we've been living on the property for more than that (over 10 years). I say "us" and "we" to better explain the myself, but I am referring to the person who is actually taking adverse possession.

    The five year rule also requires that taxes be paid on the parcel, and with no parcel ID, that has not happened.
    But we did pay the taxes. They created a parcel ID under our name with the description of the property and allowed us to pay the last 5 years of taxes, exempting us from paying taxes all the way back to 1996. Does that make a difference? Or is it still a problem? :S


    So the OP now moves to the ten year rule. I don't know the date of the filing of the affidavit, but it will be ten years from that before he can go to a court and ask that title be quieted in him.
    Who is "he"? The "heirs", or the person filing for adverse possession?

    In the mean time the actual owners or their heirs or assigns can appear and eject the OP (or his "giftees") as trespassers. I hope that the OP has had good legal advice about filing affidavits and gift deeds.
    Now, here is where I have another question, because we recently found out that the actual owner (deceased) has daughters that are still living. Shouldn't THEY be the one's trying to eject us and not the nephews? Now, so as not to go into a long story, we have known these people for a long time and know that they don't all get along well within the family, so chances are the daughters of the deceased owner would not be willing to give the nephews (their cousins) this portion of the land. Don't the daughters have more power over the land by right of lineage of inheritance, or whatever, if you know what I mean? :S

    As for the chain of title, the OP has filed an Affidavit of Adverse Possession which should have a current survey attached as "Exhibit A". That survey should reference a recorded instrument showing the most recent owner of record. If deceased or otherwise missing, a title company or attorney can investigate and find the actual owners. If you are years away from your statutory requirements for AP, your best bet to acquire the property is to negotiate a purchase. It sounds as if some of the heirs may already be preparing for an ejectment suit. If you have not met the statutory requirements for AP, you can be ejected.
    Yes, we have done all of the above and are waiting to see if the "heirs" are going to eject us. The affidavit of adverse possession was filed in January 2013, and the ejectment "attempt" was recorded by the police on the last week of February, but by the nephews, not the daughter's of the deceased owner if that matters. How long does it usually take to find out if you are being served? We do have an attorney on stand by to pursue this. I think we meet most of the statutory requirements except that we have not been living on the property for the required time from the date of filing the affidavit. The ONLY thing they can get us with, I believe, is that they are the heirs, but that property has been abandoned since before 1996 and taxes had not been paid since until we paid them in January 2013, but we've been living on it since the 80's.

    No. You cannot give something you don't own.
    See, this is so confusing. Why would they allow us to acquire a gift deed then? This is how people end up getting in trouble! Wow! Don't they check this stuff? Ok, well, wouldn't that still make our heir an innocent party though? I mean, let's say I give you a car as a gift, not knowing it "might" be stolen. You have a right to defend that car if a person is claiming it is theirs, even though I may have inadvertently stolen it, and especially if the person claiming a right to it is not proving their ownership, right? I mean, you don't just randomly go up to a person and say, "That's mine because I say it is!". So, wouldn't you say we are entitled to protect the property until they prove they are the rightful and legal heirs?

    You will have to do a title search at the Register of Deeds in the county the property is located. This is generally not a do it yourself process since you are actually looking to follow the chain of title for many many years. Only after the title history is researched and studied can a true owner be identified.
    Ok, well, maybe I'm clinging to false hope here, but does it mean anything if this title search is not yielding anything? The property is not showing up on the system. I can find my property and who owns it, and those of my relative taking adverse possession, and that of the nephews fighting the adverse possession, but not the one property being adversely possessed. And I am not checking on the tax one. I am going through a Texas Title search using the name of owner we have on the copy of the last deed on that property, and I have used the name of all the heirs (believe me, it's a small town and we know all the possible heirs, asides from having personal history with this property). I've searched using the description of the property, file numbers, and everything I can find in all the papers pertaining to that property, and nothing. The chain of title doesn't go too far. As a matter of fact, this property used to belong to my great grandmother, but the property was stolen from her while she was in her death bed, her hand being forced to sell over 20 acres of property for what we'd consider $1000 today. We knew that the 20 acres of property had been gifted to the children of the people that stole the property, but when the assessor told us this portion of the property was not listed, he assured us that meant we could take this one section of unclaimed property because the owners were expired and the fact that it was "deleted" made it a unique case in our favor if we wanted to adversely possess it. Man, this is depressing me now

    Thank you everyone who is responding though. Maybe someone can give me good news, lol.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting phjj
    View Post
    This is where you are going wrong.
    "The guy helping us out is not a lawyer"
    These are not the type of things that can be properly done w/o a lawyer.
    I agree, and believe me, this was not my doing. I was approached for assistance AFTER my relative had already filed, and back when the commissioner came to harass my relative. He warned us they'd be contacting the "owners", not knowing we already knew (or thought we knew) there were no owners to the property. But because the people he thought were the "owners" has their property attached to this one and the history of the property, we knew there could be problems where they could claim the property as theirs, and so I was asked to investigate if they could do anything to us a little too late :S

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Lot

    Ok, well, maybe I'm clinging to false hope here, but does it mean anything if this title search is not yielding anything?
    The chain of title doesn't go too far. As a matter of fact, this property used to belong to my great grandmother, but the property was stolen from her while she was in her death bed, her hand being forced to sell over 20 acres of property for what we'd consider $1000 today
    a title search will yield something. From the date of the property becoming part of the state (way back in 1845) all the way to the current owner is going to be part of the records held by the register of deeds office. That is how title is determined. If you cannot find anything on that piece of property, you are doing something wrong. Since you have found something where your grandmother used to own it, then follow the deeds after that activity and see who owns it now. Realize that an invalid deed is not going to transfer title so the deed you created to transfer title to your relatives is not effective.



    No. You cannot give something you don't own.


    See, this is so confusing. Why would they allow us to acquire a gift deed then? This is how people end up getting in trouble! Wow! Don't they check this stuff? Ok, well, wouldn't that still make our heir an innocent party though? I mean, let's say I give you a car as a gift, not knowing it "might" be stolen. You have a right to defend that car if a person is claiming it is theirs, even though I may have inadvertently stolen it, and especially if the person claiming a right to it is not proving their ownership, right? I mean, you don't just randomly go up to a person and say, "That's mine because I say it is!". So, wouldn't you say we are entitled to protect the property until they prove they are the rightful and legal heirs?
    You can create a deed but a deed only transfers what interest you hold in the property. Since you did not hold a title interest in the property, you could not transfer a title interest to your relatives. The register of deeds office does not deem a deed valid. It only records what is given to them.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Lot

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post

    a title search will yield something. From the date of the property becoming part of the state (way back in 1845) all the way to the current owner is going to be part of the records held by the register of deeds office. That is how title is determined. If you cannot find anything on that piece of property, you are doing something wrong. Since you have found something where your grandmother used to own it, then follow the deeds after that activity and see who owns it now. Realize that an invalid deed is not going to transfer title so the deed you created to transfer title to your relatives is not effective.

    I truly appreciate your help and you have helped me understand this a lot. I would like to rephrase myself. I can't find anything on the system, but I do have the last deed on that property with the name of the last known owners (not my great grandma, but the sons of the lady that took it from my g-grandma, all expired). In other words, if you search for it online, and even there in the register of deed office, the results will come back empty. We were taking our time when this was happening, but when the commissioner threatened us, we urged them to hurry up and find out what was going on. That's when they decided to go and dig deep into their paper files to find it, and now I understand that this doesn't matter any more.

    However, how about what I asked about the "heirs"? Since one of the deceased owners still has living daughters, aren't they the one's who should be trying to eject us because they are next in line to inherit, or do the nephews have as much claim to the land as the daughters of the expired last owner of the land?

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Ownership Rights to an Abandoned Road
    By fortnerd in forum Real Estate Ownership and Title
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 03-23-2013, 12:10 PM
  2. Getting Ownership of an Abandoned Boat
    By mboomercampbell in forum Personal Property
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-14-2010, 11:01 AM
  3. Adverse Possession: How To Obtain Ownership Of Abandoned Property
    By Tanker in forum Real Estate Ownership and Title
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-21-2008, 05:35 PM
  4. Ownership of an Abandoned Church in North Carolina
    By mebanite in forum Real Estate Ownership and Title
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-04-2007, 08:44 AM
  5. Land Rights: Separating Ownership of a Building from Ownership of the Land
    By Alya in forum Real Estate Ownership and Title
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 05-18-2006, 07:44 PM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources