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As a property owner knowing squatter rights is crucial. These aren’t your ordinary delinquent tenants and knowing how the law treats them is vital before taking action against them.

Squatters are every landlord’s nightmare. These unauthorized residents don’t pay rent, can cause serious damage, and can be legally tricky to remove due to adverse possession laws. In many cases, you may need an eviction notice or to follow other legal processes to get them out.

There are many laws that guard squatter rights and mean real estate owners cannot take certain action for their removal. This brings up a few big questions:

  • What are squatter rights?
  • Which states have squatter rights?
  • What can I do if squatters move in?

We’re going to help you answer all these questions today, simply read on below.

What are Squatters?

A conventional squatters definition covers people who live on your property without permission. Of course, that includes quite a lot of possible parties.

For instance, a tenant who refuses to leave after a lease has ended or has been canceled could technically be defined as a squatter.

Weirdly, the same can also be said of Airbnb guests who overstay in some situations. There are now even Airbnb squatter rights of sorts that must be considered.

In most areas, anyone who lives on your property for more than 30 days with permission can claim rights as in the eyes of the law they become your tenants. When this happens you will usually need to carry out an eviction procedure.

However, in the case where permission was never given and an unoccupied property is forcibly entered and lived in, there are still rules you must follow.

What are Squatter Rights?

Squatter rights police how you must approach removing the unwanted residents. If your vacant property is occupied without permission for a long enough period of time these rights will be conferred on the residents.

Adverse possession (the legal term for squatting) is part of the legal code in most states. These rules protect the inhabitants from being removed forcibly. They also require you to follow a legal eviction procedure to compel them to leave.

Squatter rights can ultimately allow the residents to become the legal owners of the property too. In this case, squatters can be granted the title to the property if they live in it undisturbed and pay local property taxes for a number of years.

Why Do Squatters Have Rights?

Occupants of any property have the right not to be displaced without notice whether or not they have permission to live somewhere.

The rights squatters enjoy today were originally brought over from British property law and were created with the intention of protecting and distinguishing those who owned and used land. This also developed over time and as land was settled across the states and ownership of that land was shared out.

Additionally, as cities and towns grew, squatter rights sometimes proved beneficial as residents were able to revamp and look after abandoned spaces. This has affected the rules of New York City especially.

How to Get Rid of Squatters

The precise procedure for removing squatters from a property ultimately relies on your state and municipality. Local rules and regulations have different specificities depending on where you live.

However, there are a few things you should do first no matter where you reside. In most cases you should at the very least take the following steps:

  1. Assess whether you have squatters or trespassers. If your occupants have only been on the property a short time, you may be able to call in law enforcement to help remove them under breaking and entering statutes. The residents will be deemed as squatters however if they’ve been living there for several months.
  2. Begin an eviction process. If you have squatters you’ll have to begin a formal eviction process. This means you should serve them with an eviction notice and if they refuse to leave, file a complaint with your local court.

What Not to Do When Evicting Squatters

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when removing squatters from your property. Make sure to avoid the following common errors:

  • Don’t wait too long. Under adverse possession laws, the squatters could claim full ownership rights if they live continuously on the property for a few years. Starting an eviction procedure stops this.
  • Don’t evict illegally. As tempting as it may be, you mustn’t forcibly evict squatters. Make sure to follow a legal eviction process to avoid additional issues down the line.

How to Prevent Squatters Moving In

Prevention is ultimately the best cure when it comes to squatters. There are a few things you can do to stop unwanted inhabitants from moving in which include:

  • Make it clear that you own the property by maintaining bordering fences, door locks, and documentation proving you are the owner.
  • Formalize agreements with people who will live on the property temporarily with legal documents such as lease agreements. These should outline the rules and duration of the use of the property that you’ve agreed to.
  • Regularly visit and inspect the property if it is vacant to make sure no one is occupying it.
  • Contact the police or a local sheriff if you discover trespassers.
  • Keep up to date with your property taxes. You should also check your local records to ensure that no one unknown to you is paying these taxes.

What Different Squatter Rights Exist in Different States?

Squatter rights exist in almost every state in some form. Under these adverse possession laws, squatters will gain ownership rights to the property after a certain amount of time has passed. However, the duration depends on the state you are in.

This is how it works in some of the most populated states:

  • California: Squatters who pay taxes on your property for 5 years will gain the title to the property.
  • Florida: Unauthorized residents paying taxes for your property for 7 years will be granted ownership.
  • New York: In most of the state, squatters need to live for 10 years on a property openly and illegally before claiming ownership. However, NYC has its own rules which stipulate you can claim squatters’ rights 30 days after a lease has ended.
  • Ohio: Squatters in Ohio must live on a property for 21 years openly before they can claim ownership rights.
  • Texas: The law in Texas states that squatters need to live on a property for 30 years before they can claim its title under its Adverse Possession laws.

It’s important to be cautious when dealing with squatters. Naturally, you probably want them out as soon as possible but you have to follow the law when removing them.

In most cases, however, a properly prepared eviction notice template can be enough to get things moving in the process. This is something you can easily create today to start the clock ticking on removing your unwanted occupants.


Start Your Free Eviction Notice

Squatter Rights by State

Adverse possession statutes vary from state to state. Depending on the specific area in which the property is located, different documents will be required as well as varying amounts of possession years.

For a full overview of squatter rights across different US states, consult the following table:

State Adverse Possession Statute Years Required Documents Required
Alabama Ala. Code Ann. § 6-5-200 10 (deed or taxes) Deed or paid property taxes
Alaska Alaska Stat. Ann. § § 09.10.030, 09.45.052 10, 7 (deed) If 7 years: deed
Arizona Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 12-522 and subsequent 10, 5 (deed and taxes), 3 (deed and taxes) If 5 years: deed and paid property taxes (if city lot)

If 3 years: deed and paid property taxes

Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. § § 18-61-103, 18-11-106 7 (deed, taxes) Deed and paid property taxes
California Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 325 5 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 38-41-101, 38-41-108 18, 7 (deed, taxes) If 7 years: deed and paid property taxes
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 52-575 15 No documents required
Delaware Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7901 20 No documents required
District of Columbia D.C. Code Ann. § § 16-1113, 12-301 15 No documents required
Florida Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.12 and subsequent 7 (deed or taxes) Deed or paid property taxes
Georgia Ga. Code Ann. § § 44-4-7, 44-5-14, 44-5-161 and subsequent 20, 7 (deed) If 20 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed

Hawaii Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-31 to 31.5 20 No documents required
Idaho Idaho Code Ann. § § 5-206 and subsequent 20 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Illinois 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § § 5/13-105, 107, 109 20, 7 (deed or taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed or paid property taxes

Indiana Ind. Code Ann. § § 32-23-1-1, 34-11-2-11 10 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Iowa Iowa Code Ann. § 614.17A 10 No documents required
Kansas Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-503 15 No documents required
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. § § 413.010, 413.060 15, 7 (deed) If 15 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed

Louisiana La. Civ. Code art. 3475, 3486 30, 10 (deed) If 30 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed

Maine Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 801 20 No documents required
Maryland Md. Ann. Code [Cts. & Jud. Proc.] § 5-103 20 No documents required
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 21 20 No documents required
Michigan Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5801 15 No documents required
Minnesota Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.02 15 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. § § 15-1-7, 15-1-13 10 No documents required
Missouri Mo. Stat. Ann. § 516.010 10 No documents required
Montana Mont. Code Ann. § 70-19-411 5 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-202 10 No documents required
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 11.070, 11.110, 11.150, 40.090 15 (taxes), 5 (deed, taxes) If 15 years: paid property taxes

If 5 years: deed and paid property taxes

New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:2 20 No documents required
New Jersey N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-30 30 No documents required
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. § 37-1-22 10 (deed) Deed
New York New York Real Prop. Acts. Law § 501, 511 10 No documents required
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 1-38, 1-40 20, 7 (deed) If 7 years: deed
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § § 28-01-04 and subsequent, 47-06-03 20, 10 (deed, taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed or paid property taxes

Ohio Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.04 21 No documents required
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 93 15 No documents required
Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. § § 12.050, 105.620 10 No documents required
Pennsylvania 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5530 21, 10 for single-family homes on land plots of No documents required
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 34-7-1 10 No documents required
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 15-67-210 10 No documents required
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § § 15-3-1, 15-3-15 20, 10 (deed, taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed and paid property taxes

Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § § 28-2-101 to 28-2-103 7 (deed) Deed
Texas Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.021 and subsequent 10, 5 (deed, taxes) If 10 years: no documents required

If 5 years: deed and paid property taxes

Utah Utah Code Ann. § § 78B-2-208 to 78B-2-214 7 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 501 15 No documents required
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-236 15 No documents required
Washington Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § § 4.16.020, 7.28.050 10, 7 (deed or taxes) If 10 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed or paid property taxes

West Virginia W. Va. Code § 55-2-1 10 No documents required
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. Ann. § § 893.25 to 893.27 20, 10 (deed), 7 (deed, taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed

If 7 years: deed and paid property taxes

Wyoming Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-103 10 No documents required

As a property owner knowing squatter rights is crucial. These aren’t your ordinary delinquent tenants and knowing how the law treats them is vital before taking action against them.

Squatters are every landlord’s nightmare. These unauthorized residents don’t pay rent, can cause serious damage, and can be legally tricky to remove due to adverse possession laws. In many cases, you may need an eviction notice or to follow other legal processes to get them out.

There are many laws that guard squatter rights and mean real estate owners cannot take certain action for their removal. This brings up a few big questions:

  • What are squatter rights?
  • Which states have squatter rights?
  • What can I do if squatters move in?

We’re going to help you answer all these questions today, simply read on below.

What are Squatters?

A conventional squatters definition covers people who live on your property without permission. Of course, that includes quite a lot of possible parties.

For instance, a tenant who refuses to leave after a lease has ended or has been canceled could technically be defined as a squatter.

Weirdly, the same can also be said of Airbnb guests who overstay in some situations. There are now even Airbnb squatter rights of sorts that must be considered.

In most areas, anyone who lives on your property for more than 30 days with permission can claim rights as in the eyes of the law they become your tenants. When this happens you will usually need to carry out an eviction procedure.

However, in the case where permission was never given and an unoccupied property is forcibly entered and lived in, there are still rules you must follow.

What are Squatter Rights?

Squatter rights police how you must approach removing the unwanted residents. If your vacant property is occupied without permission for a long enough period of time these rights will be conferred on the residents.

Adverse possession (the legal term for squatting) is part of the legal code in most states. These rules protect the inhabitants from being removed forcibly. They also require you to follow a legal eviction procedure to compel them to leave.

Squatter rights can ultimately allow the residents to become the legal owners of the property too. In this case, squatters can be granted the title to the property if they live in it undisturbed and pay local property taxes for a number of years.

Why Do Squatters Have Rights?

Occupants of any property have the right not to be displaced without notice whether or not they have permission to live somewhere.

The rights squatters enjoy today were originally brought over from British property law and were created with the intention of protecting and distinguishing those who owned and used land. This also developed over time and as land was settled across the states and ownership of that land was shared out.

Additionally, as cities and towns grew, squatter rights sometimes proved beneficial as residents were able to revamp and look after abandoned spaces. This has affected the rules of New York City especially.

How to Get Rid of Squatters

The precise procedure for removing squatters from a property ultimately relies on your state and municipality. Local rules and regulations have different specificities depending on where you live.

However, there are a few things you should do first no matter where you reside. In most cases you should at the very least take the following steps:

  1. Assess whether you have squatters or trespassers. If your occupants have only been on the property a short time, you may be able to call in law enforcement to help remove them under breaking and entering statutes. The residents will be deemed as squatters however if they’ve been living there for several months.
  2. Begin an eviction process. If you have squatters you’ll have to begin a formal eviction process. This means you should serve them with an eviction notice and if they refuse to leave, file a complaint with your local court.

What Not to Do When Evicting Squatters

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when removing squatters from your property. Make sure to avoid the following common errors:

  • Don’t wait too long. Under adverse possession laws, the squatters could claim full ownership rights if they live continuously on the property for a few years. Starting an eviction procedure stops this.
  • Don’t evict illegally. As tempting as it may be, you mustn’t forcibly evict squatters. Make sure to follow a legal eviction process to avoid additional issues down the line.

How to Prevent Squatters Moving In

Prevention is ultimately the best cure when it comes to squatters. There are a few things you can do to stop unwanted inhabitants from moving in which include:

  • Make it clear that you own the property by maintaining bordering fences, door locks, and documentation proving you are the owner.
  • Formalize agreements with people who will live on the property temporarily with legal documents such as lease agreements. These should outline the rules and duration of the use of the property that you’ve agreed to.
  • Regularly visit and inspect the property if it is vacant to make sure no one is occupying it.
  • Contact the police or a local sheriff if you discover trespassers.
  • Keep up to date with your property taxes. You should also check your local records to ensure that no one unknown to you is paying these taxes.

What Different Squatter Rights Exist in Different States?

Squatter rights exist in almost every state in some form. Under these adverse possession laws, squatters will gain ownership rights to the property after a certain amount of time has passed. However, the duration depends on the state you are in.

This is how it works in some of the most populated states:

  • California: Squatters who pay taxes on your property for 5 years will gain the title to the property.
  • Florida: Unauthorized residents paying taxes for your property for 7 years will be granted ownership.
  • New York: In most of the state, squatters need to live for 10 years on a property openly and illegally before claiming ownership. However, NYC has its own rules which stipulate you can claim squatters’ rights 30 days after a lease has ended.
  • Ohio: Squatters in Ohio must live on a property for 21 years openly before they can claim ownership rights.
  • Texas: The law in Texas states that squatters need to live on a property for 30 years before they can claim its title under its Adverse Possession laws.

It’s important to be cautious when dealing with squatters. Naturally, you probably want them out as soon as possible but you have to follow the law when removing them.

In most cases, however, a properly prepared eviction notice template can be enough to get things moving in the process. This is something you can easily create today to start the clock ticking on removing your unwanted occupants.


Start Your Free Eviction Notice

Squatter Rights by State

Adverse possession statutes vary from state to state. Depending on the specific area in which the property is located, different documents will be required as well as varying amounts of possession years.

For a full overview of squatter rights across different US states, consult the following table:

State Adverse Possession Statute Years Required Documents Required
Alabama Ala. Code Ann. § 6-5-200 10 (deed or taxes) Deed or paid property taxes
Alaska Alaska Stat. Ann. § § 09.10.030, 09.45.052 10, 7 (deed) If 7 years: deed
Arizona Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 12-522 and subsequent 10, 5 (deed and taxes), 3 (deed and taxes) If 5 years: deed and paid property taxes (if city lot)

If 3 years: deed and paid property taxes

Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. § § 18-61-103, 18-11-106 7 (deed, taxes) Deed and paid property taxes
California Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 325 5 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 38-41-101, 38-41-108 18, 7 (deed, taxes) If 7 years: deed and paid property taxes
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 52-575 15 No documents required
Delaware Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7901 20 No documents required
District of Columbia D.C. Code Ann. § § 16-1113, 12-301 15 No documents required
Florida Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.12 and subsequent 7 (deed or taxes) Deed or paid property taxes
Georgia Ga. Code Ann. § § 44-4-7, 44-5-14, 44-5-161 and subsequent 20, 7 (deed) If 20 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed

Hawaii Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-31 to 31.5 20 No documents required
Idaho Idaho Code Ann. § § 5-206 and subsequent 20 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Illinois 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § § 5/13-105, 107, 109 20, 7 (deed or taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed or paid property taxes

Indiana Ind. Code Ann. § § 32-23-1-1, 34-11-2-11 10 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Iowa Iowa Code Ann. § 614.17A 10 No documents required
Kansas Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-503 15 No documents required
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. § § 413.010, 413.060 15, 7 (deed) If 15 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed

Louisiana La. Civ. Code art. 3475, 3486 30, 10 (deed) If 30 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed

Maine Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 801 20 No documents required
Maryland Md. Ann. Code [Cts. & Jud. Proc.] § 5-103 20 No documents required
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 21 20 No documents required
Michigan Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5801 15 No documents required
Minnesota Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.02 15 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. § § 15-1-7, 15-1-13 10 No documents required
Missouri Mo. Stat. Ann. § 516.010 10 No documents required
Montana Mont. Code Ann. § 70-19-411 5 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-202 10 No documents required
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 11.070, 11.110, 11.150, 40.090 15 (taxes), 5 (deed, taxes) If 15 years: paid property taxes

If 5 years: deed and paid property taxes

New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:2 20 No documents required
New Jersey N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-30 30 No documents required
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. § 37-1-22 10 (deed) Deed
New York New York Real Prop. Acts. Law § 501, 511 10 No documents required
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 1-38, 1-40 20, 7 (deed) If 7 years: deed
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § § 28-01-04 and subsequent, 47-06-03 20, 10 (deed, taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed or paid property taxes

Ohio Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.04 21 No documents required
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 93 15 No documents required
Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. § § 12.050, 105.620 10 No documents required
Pennsylvania 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5530 21, 10 for single-family homes on land plots of No documents required
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 34-7-1 10 No documents required
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 15-67-210 10 No documents required
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § § 15-3-1, 15-3-15 20, 10 (deed, taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed and paid property taxes

Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. § § 28-2-101 to 28-2-103 7 (deed) Deed
Texas Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.021 and subsequent 10, 5 (deed, taxes) If 10 years: no documents required

If 5 years: deed and paid property taxes

Utah Utah Code Ann. § § 78B-2-208 to 78B-2-214 7 (taxes) Paid property taxes
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 501 15 No documents required
Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-236 15 No documents required
Washington Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § § 4.16.020, 7.28.050 10, 7 (deed or taxes) If 10 years: no documents required

If 7 years: deed or paid property taxes

West Virginia W. Va. Code § 55-2-1 10 No documents required
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. Ann. § § 893.25 to 893.27 20, 10 (deed), 7 (deed, taxes) If 20 years: no documents required

If 10 years: deed

If 7 years: deed and paid property taxes

Wyoming Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-103 10 No documents required