Possession of Rural Land After Tax Sale


Many of you ask me, “How do you possess rural land after a tax sale?”  If neither you,  nor a tenant, wants to pitch a tent and live there, what do you do?

The 1983 Alabama Supreme Court case of Hurt v. Given, which involved tax sale property, helps answer this question. The court said:  “Land need only be used by an adverse possessor in a manner consistent with its nature and character–by such acts as would ordinarily be performed by the true owners of such land in such condition. The specific question to be answered then is what acts would ordinarily be performed by the true owners of what the record shows to be rural, wooded land.”

In that case, not much had been done on the land except sporadically cutting timber for firewood. That wasn’t enough. BUT, the court said the plaintiffs HAD done something that was enough. They marked the boundaries.  This is what the court said, “Most importantly, plaintiffs manually marked the entire 200-acre tract, including the 40-acre disputed tract. They did so by cutting trees, marking them with orange paint, and then clearing the undergrowth along the boundary so that the marks could be seen. … On an annual basis, plaintiff, Jack Given, walked over the land to inspect the timber and boundary markers. Marking of boundaries, taken together with other acts, may constitute possession.”

To the lawyers, if you want to read the entire decision, it is at 445 So.2d 549 (Ala. 1983)