The Farm Lawyer: How ‘Squatter’s Rights’ Impacts Agriculture

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We’ve all heard the term “Squatter’s Rights”. Many only think about someone squatting in a vacant building to take possession of it, but the Doctrine of Adverse Possession, also known as “Squatter’s Rights”, can pertain to agriculture too.

Cass County attorney John Schwarz, ‘The Farm Lawyer’, says there are two situations squatter’s rights come into play on the farm.

“One is when fences are not on the true property lines. We see this where there’s a fence, years go by, trees grow, we have a fence row, someone wants to put a new fence in and instead of taking the time to cut all these trees down, they just put the fence between the trees and the field. Years and years go by and all of a sudden, the person on the other side, maybe they take some of the trees down, maybe they start using some of that land that was the other person’s land. If they use it, if they think they’re paying the taxes on it, and here in Indiana if they do it for 10 years, there’s a very good chance that ground can become theirs.”

The second is when you farm near homes and you push back farther and farther each year from your neighbors’ property line.

One way to avoid losing your land is if you give permission for a part of your land to be used.

“Let’s say there’s corner of a field you can’t get a piece of machinery around and some kids put a little baseball diamond or something. Give permission. Give written permission. It’s okay if someone uses it. They’re not going to get away with adverse possession if you’ve given them permission and again, do it in writing.”

Schwarz explains more in the full interview below.

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