Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s Office Now Issuing Warning Letter to Those Filing Adverse Possession Claims

TAMPA -- In an effort to mitigate the ongoing misuse of the state’s adverse possession law, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez and his staff will now be issuing written warnings to anyone filing claims to properties within the county.

“It’s our office’s duty to protect the interest of legitimate property owners, as well as unsuspecting citizens who may be duped into moving into a home illegally,” Henriquez said. “We hope this warning letter will make it clear there are serious legal ramifications for those attempting to use our state’s adverse possession law under false pretenses.”

Adverse possession laws date back centuries. Their original purpose was to allow individuals to claim abandoned lands and begin using them for productive purposes. The intent was to put these properties back to good use, return them to the tax roll and allow the individual to one day take permanent and legal ownership of the property.

Florida’s adverse possession law can be found in Florida Statutes 95.16 and 95.18 and dates back to the 1800s. In most instances, an adverse possession claim in Florida can be filed without cost at any of the state’s county property appraiser’s office.

While the law’s original purpose has not changed, some unscrupulous persons have been filing adverse possession claims on properties not abandoned by the owner or lender.

As a result of this continuing problem, Henriquez and his staff are now issuing a written “Fraud Alert” to any individual filing an adverse possession claim at any HCPA office.

The one-page warning letter is in cooperation with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The notice clearly states that even though an individual is allowed to file an adverse possession claim on a property, occupying that property means they are trespassing, possibly breaking and entering and subject to being arrested.

In addition, the HCPA will now be forwarding all adverse possession claims to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for its records.

Important: Warning Regarding the Filing of Adverse Possession

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The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser is an elected official charged with the duty and responsibility to appraise all of the property in the County. This includes real estate and tangible personal property (the equipment, machinery and fixtures) of businesses. 

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