Kentucky Adverse Possession Law

Kentucky Adverse Possession Law

This Kentucky real estate law post is designed to provide an overview of Kentucky adverse possession. In short, adverse possession laws allows a stranger to take over a property. Homeowners should be aware of the responsibilities and upkeep they need to maintain in order to make sure they don’t become entangled in a lengthy court process. After all, a home is normally a person’s single most valuable asset. So, to make sure that the Kentucky land remains with the rightful owner, a homeowner should keep an eye on what goes on in their property at all times.

In Kentucky, the adverse possession laws generally allow someone to take ownership of a piece of property if they’ve lived there for a certain period of time, made changes to the property, have a deed to the property, or have paid rent or property taxes on it.

In sum, adverse possession allows a trespasser- sometimes a stranger, but occasionally a neighbor – to gain legal title over someone else’s land. Kentucky courts will enforce what they view as a fair result when an owner neglects his land while another has been using or caring for it for long that to make him or her leave would seem unfair, or create hardship. In the simplest terms, if a trespasser spends enough time caring for a piece of property that the true owner has neglected, and the true owner makes no objection, then a court might award “ownership” to the trespasser.

How does Kentucky adverse possession work?

In Kentucky, the adverse possessor has the burden of proof to establish that their possession is (1) actual; (2) hostile; (3) exclusive; (4) open and notorious; and (5) continuous. Appalachian Reg’l Healthcare, Inc. v. Royal Crown Bottling Co., Inc., 824 S.W.2d 878, 880 (Ky. 1992). The burden of proof is under a clear and convincing standard. Vick v. Elliot, 422 S.W.3d 277, 279 (Ky. Ct. App. 2014)

What counts as possession in Kentucky real estate for Adverse possession purposes?

Kentucky real estate law requires possession to be: actual; hostile (without permission); exclusive; open and notorious; continuous for 15 years (Ken. Rev. Stat. § 413.010); and definite.

To establish an adverse possession claim,  Kentucky real estate law also requires “definiteness.” That means that the trespasser must do something to indicate the extent of their claim by well-defined boundaries (such as building a fence) or have color of title. Gillis v. Martin, 145 S.W.2d 1051, 1052 (Ky. 1940). Color of title refers to whether any instrument purports to give title to a trespasser. McDaniel v. Ramsey’s Adm’rs, 204 S.W.2d 953, 954 (Ky. 1947).

Protections and defenses against Kentucky Adverse Possession

Kentucky law does its best to protect landowners from would be trespassers. For example, people who use use another’s land solely for recreational purposes (such as hiking, camping, swimming, hunting, fishing, or boating) cannot establish a claim for adverse possession there.Ken. Rev. Stat § 411.190.

Additionally, a person must have occupied the land at issue for 15 years under Kentucky law before they can make a claim of ownership. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.010. An exception exists if a person has color of title. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.060. In that case, a person can file suit for adverse possession at the 7 year mark. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.060.

Other Kentucky adverse possession defenses

If someone is encroaching on a homeowner’s land then the course of action is to speak with the trespasser and have them remove all structures from stop entering into the land. If the problem persists, then the homeowner should consult an attorney to determine whether a quiet title action is an appropriate method to determine the rightful owner of the land. In an action to quiet title, the Kentucky state court judge may issue an order determining the rightful owner of the land.

As an aside, Kentucky state and local government entities are typically immune from adverse possession actions.

Real estate law firm Rodriguez Lopez, APC constantly hears from client regarding abandoned property. If you have any questions regarding your real estate property in Kentucky, or Kentucky real estate laws, contact an attorney at Rodriguez Lopez, APC to schedule a consult today.

Real estate law firm Rodriguez Lopez, APC, provides services to the following areas in Kentucky: Ashland; Lexington; Louisville; Russell; Flatwoods; Catlettsburg; Bellefonte. Real estate law firm Rodriguez Lopez, APC also provides legal services all throughout the state of California.

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