Lots of people want to know . . . if I stay in my home for a while after the foreclosure can I obtain title to it under South Carolina’s adverse possession law? It all depends on how long a “while” you stay there and under what circumstances you occupy the home.
Let’s start the analysis with the premise that adverse possession of a foreclosure is not likely to happen. The mere fact that the bank has proceeded to foreclosure means they are aware of their legal title to the property and are working to defend their interest. Therefore, an adverse possession claim on a foreclosure is not likely to succeed in the modern age.
To constitute adverse possession a person must occupy the home or land for at least ten years. The South Carolina Statute on adverse possession states as follows:
In every action for the recovery of real property or the possession thereof the person establishing a legal title to the premises shall be presumed to have been possessed thereof within the time required by law. The occupation of such premises by any other person shall be deemed to have been under and in subordination to the legal title unless it appear that such premises have been held and possessed adversely to such legal title for ten years before the commencement of such action.
Furthermore, possession of the property must be continuous, open, actual, notorious and exclusive during that time period. What this means is you can’t hide in the back of a barn on the property for ten years and then claim adverse possession. Your possession of the property must be obvious to your neighbors, the general public and to the actual title holder should he examine the property. It also must be continuous. You can’t stay for three years, take a five year vacation in the Caribbean and then come back for another seven years. The ten years must run consecutively.
Therefore, gaining title of your home from a bank after a foreclosure just by occupying the home for a period of time will not likely work. In some cases these days banks are taking quite some time to eject homeowners after foreclosure. However, ten years is quite some time and not likely to occur.
At Coastal Living Real Estate we are constantly educating our members on the laws and regulations affecting real estate transactions. As always, if you have a legal question, please consult a real estate attorney. If you need to buy or sell real estate, please consult Coastal Living Real Estate!