Hostile Possession Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Hostile Possession, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Hostile Possession?

(n) Hostile Possession is the holding of a real property with a claim on it, over any other person who has a claim on such property including the recorded title holder. A person may get hostile possession when he was holding the property for long time when there is no known owner

History and Meaning of Hostile Possession

Hostile Possession is a legal term used to describe a situation where a person takes possession of a real property without the consent of the true owner. Historically, the concept of hostile possession can be traced back to ancient Roman law, which recognized the rights of those who openly occupied land without dispute for a period of time. Over time, the concept evolved, and various legal systems recognized the right to claim ownership of the property after a certain period of time has passed.

In modern times, hostile possession is recognized as a legal means of acquiring ownership through adverse possession. In adverse possession, a person takes control of the property, and after a certain time period has elapsed, they can claim ownership of the property by meeting certain legal requirements such as continuous possession, open and notorious possession, exclusive possession, hostile possession, and actual possession.

Examples of Hostile Possession

  1. John moved into a vacant property and began to maintain it regularly without the permission of the owner. After a certain period of time has passed, John may claim ownership of the property if he can meet the legal requirements for adverse possession.

  2. Sarah bought a piece of land which she believed was part of her property. After discovering that the land actually belonged to her neighbor, she continued to use and maintain the land without the neighbor's permission. Sarah may acquire the land through hostile possession if she meets the legal requirements for adverse possession.

  3. Tom inherited a property from his grandfather, but he did not have the property transferred to his name officially. Sharing the property with his cousins, Tom continued to make improvements on the property and denied his cousins any claim to it. After a certain period of time has passed, Tom may claim ownership through adverse possession under the doctrine of hostile possession.

Legal Terms Similar to Hostile Possession

  1. Adverse Possession: A legal concept referring to a situation where someone acquires ownership of a property by possessing it continuously, openly, and in a manner that conflicts with the rights of the true owner over a statutory period of years.

  2. Prescriptive Easement: A right to use another's property acquired by open and hostile use of the property over a period of time.

  3. Trespass: Illegal entry into a property that belongs to someone else without their permission.