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Recent Developments in Arkansas Regarding Church Property

An Arkansas court ruled that a church that occupied a building for several years failed to establish ownership through adverse possession since it did not prove that it occupied the building with an intent to displace the true owner.

Arkansas
State:
Key point. A church may become the legal owner of property that it occupies through "adverse possession" if it occupies the property for a sufficient length of time both openly and with an intent to claim ownership adverse to the true owner.

An Arkansas court ruled that a church that occupied a building for several years failed to establish ownership through adverse possession since it did not prove that it occupied the building with an intent to displace the true owner. A private individual purchased a 4.5 acre tract of land in 1949. A single-story church building was located on the property. In 1985, a congregation began using the church building without obtaining permission from the owner. Shortly after occupying the church building, the congregation began cleaning up the premises, which the pastor described as a "wilderness" and "dumping site." The land was overgrown with vines ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • November 1, 1999

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