In response to national outrage over an infamous adverse possession case in Boulder, Colorado, in which a lawyer and a judge intentionally took their neighbors’ undeveloped land through adverse possession, the Colorado legislature amended the state’s adverse possession statute (C.R.S. § 38-41-101) to make the claim significantly harder to prove. It did this because it believed “there were insufficient ‘obstacles’ to establishing a claim for adverse possession under the existing law.” Effective July 1, 2008, the amendment created a heightened burden of proof, additional element requirements, and the possibility of a losing defendant recovering money from successful plaintiffs for the value of the land they took and the taxes the defendant had paid on that land.
The Boulder case eventually settled, but the resulting statutory amendments have drastically changed the landscape of Colorado’s adverse possession law. Ten years later, this blog post takes a brief look at the amended statute, the impact it has had, and questions that have yet to be resolved.