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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

DO YOU GET COMPENSATION FOR LOSING YOUR LAND IN AN ADVERSE POSSESSION CASE?

Submitted by Eve I. Canfield

After the famous case in Boulder District Court, McLean v DK Trust, Colorado‘s legislature revised the statute on adverse possession. (C.R.S. § 38-41-101). In addition to making it a little more difficult to prove all of the elements of adverse possession for the party claiming ownership against the record owner, the revised statue allowed for some compensation to the losing party at the discretion of the judge. Compensation for the property itself is based upon the actual value by the county assessor for the most recent property tax valuation. Compensation may also be in the way of an equitable apportionment of the actual tax value of the property being lost if that parcel was not already taxed separately from the losing party’s property. A losing party can also be reimbursed for all or part of the property taxes and other assessments that were paid by the losing party for the last eighteen years before the entry of a final order giving title to the adverse possessor. This revision provides some relief to property owners losing title to a portion of land that has been proven to be adversely possessed by another. The only problem that remains, is that this revision allowing for compensation is only applicable in actions in which title vests with the adverse possessor on or after July 1, 2008, meaning the full 18 year requirement for adverse possession has been fulfilled before July 1, 2008. If title is shown to vest in the adverse party before July 1, 2008, this compensation provision is not available to you if your land if taken through an adverse possession action.

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