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Property Rights by Squatting: Land Ownership Risk and Adverse Possession Statutes

Matthew John Baker (), Thomas Miceli (), C. F. Sirmans and Geoffrey K. Turnbull

Land Economics, 2001, vol. 77, issue 3, pages 360-370

Abstract: A fundamental aspect of private property is the right to exclude trespassers or squatters. Nonetheless, in all 50 states a trespasser can acquire ownership by continuously occupying a parcel of land until the statutorily set period of limitations runs out. Although these adverse possession statutes appear to weaken property rights, this paper explains how such limits are valuable to property owners by balancing the risk of claims from past legitimate owners against the cost of expelling future trespassers or squatters. The empirical analysis using data from 46 states provides evidence that is consistent with the theory.

JEL-codes: K11 Q15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2001
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