What Is Tacking in Property Law

What Is Tacking in Property Law?

In property law, the concept of tacking refers to the ability of a property owner to combine or add together periods of continuous occupation or possession of land in order to establish a claim to adverse possession. Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows an individual to gain ownership of someone else’s property if certain conditions are met, such as continuous possession for a specified period of time.

Tacking is particularly relevant when there is a transfer of ownership or possession between individuals. It allows the subsequent possessor to “tack on” their period of possession to the previous possessor’s period, effectively extending the total duration of continuous possession. This is important because adverse possession requires uninterrupted possession for a specific statutory period, which varies depending on the jurisdiction.

To better understand the concept of tacking, it is crucial to delve into the key elements that must be present for adverse possession to be successfully claimed:

1. Open and Notorious: The possessor’s occupation of the property must be visible and apparent to others, leaving no doubt that they are asserting their ownership rights openly.

2. Exclusive: The possessor must possess the property exclusively, without sharing it with the true owner or anyone else who may have a legal claim to it.

3. Continuous: The possession must be continuous, without any significant interruptions or abandonment of the property. Tacking allows for the combination of multiple periods of continuous possession to meet the required time frame for adverse possession.

4. Hostile: The occupation of the property must be without the permission of the true owner. The possessor must demonstrate an intent to assert ownership rights against the true owner’s wishes.

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5. Actual Possession: The possessor must physically possess the property and use it in a way that demonstrates their control and dominion over it.


Q: Can tacking be used to establish adverse possession if there is a transfer of ownership?
A: Yes, tacking allows the subsequent possessor to add their period of possession to the previous possessor’s, effectively extending the duration of continuous possession.

Q: How long does the continuous possession need to be for adverse possession to be claimed?
A: The required duration of continuous possession varies depending on the jurisdiction. It can range from as little as a few years to as long as several decades.

Q: Is tacking applicable if there is a gap in possession between different possessors?
A: Generally, gaps in possession interrupt the continuous possession required for adverse possession. However, some jurisdictions allow tacking even if there are short gaps between possessors, as long as the overall possession remains continuous.

Q: Can tacking be used if the property is used by multiple individuals?
A: Tacking can only be used if the possession of the property is exclusive. If multiple individuals are using the property simultaneously, adverse possession cannot be claimed.

Q: Is adverse possession a common occurrence?
A: Adverse possession cases are relatively rare, as they require meeting strict legal requirements. However, they can occur in situations where a property owner neglects their property, leading to another individual taking possession and meeting the necessary criteria for adverse possession over time.

In conclusion, tacking in property law allows subsequent possessors to combine their period of possession with the previous possessor’s in order to establish continuous possession for adverse possession claims. It is an essential tool that assists individuals in meeting the required duration of possession. However, it is important to note that adverse possession cases are complex and require meeting specific legal criteria.

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