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.
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