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What's morally right or wrong about adverse possession laws?

Adverse possession laws essentially state that if you make a good faith effort to find the owner of a property but are unable to do so, then "conspicuously and openly" occupy the home for a period of time, you can take possession of the property. Are these laws valid, or are they a violation of property rights of the original owner? In particular, what of this Texas case: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/7677980.html ?

Santiago J Valenzuela , 01.08.2011, 12:19
Idea status: under consideration


Michael Hardy, 18.06.2013, 22:05
A friend of mine lives in a house that's been in his family for almost 60 years. When it was built, a wooden fence was constructed, surrounding the back yard. The fence has been there ever since. Half of the turf surrounded by the fence is on railroad property; the track is not far from the backyard. The railroad has never said a word about it. Clear "adverse possession", right? Wrong!! In this state, as in several states, a law says railroads cannot loose property via adverse possession. That's why the railroad has tolerated the situation: they have nothing to fear.
Jack, 31.12.2014, 13:48
The very notion of Property Rights, in the first place, is a very complicated one that is just riddled with all kinds of thorny questions.

For example, for anything not already owned (so you don't get to just buy it from someone), how exactly does one's right of ownership arise, and what is sufficient and/or necessary for the continuation of this right? ( Merely being first on the scene? Maybe not being first to use it, but being first to claim ownership of it? Investing mental labor? Investing physical labor? Staking off boundaries? Being able to defend challengers? Actually defending challengers? Having a "better" use for it than a challenger has? Continued use? Must that "use" be obvious to others? Must that use change the property somehow or is mere enjoyment, say, of viewing one's property sufficient? Must one IMPROVE the property (and by whose definition of "improve")? Must one remain always at that property to claim/maintain ownership (think of colonial-America native American tribes who seasonally migrate back and forth across the same, but large and indefensible, swaths of land, wherein a challenger to the claim (could be colonist, could be another tribe) lays claim to one zone when the owning tribe is in the other for the season). Does it all really just come down to "might makes right" (again, in the context of something currently un-owned so you're not buying it or bullying it away from someone)?

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