What are Squatters Rights? [Everything You Need to Know]

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What are Squatters Rights [Everything You Need to Know]

Squatting is when someone takes up residence on a property to which they have no claim, title, or lease. In some cases, the squatter may acquire ownership rights through an adverse possession claim, which involves taking control of the land without permission from its rightful owner.

When a home or rental property is left unsupervised and uncared for a period, it could be vulnerable to being claimed by another person who may take possession and use the land. This might mean the ownership title gets transferred from the true owner without their consent or knowledge.

Do you know who to contact for help in providing a legal eviction notice and how to guarantee that the squatters are removed? With the help of our guide, you can be informed on squatters’ rights and how to evict any squatter from your property successfully.

Squatters Rights

Unlawful occupancy of your premises without consent or who do not pay rent is what we call squatting. Those who choose to do so blatantly disregard another person’s property rights and take possession.

It may sound far-fetched, yet the legal concept of adverse possession can permit a squatter to become the rightful owner of the property by inhabiting it for an extended period. This amount of time generally falls between five and ten years or more.

Through a legal process known as adverse possession laws, a squatter can gain ownership of the property without paying for it provided that:

  • They have exclusive possession for personal use, and the property is not intended to be used commercially.
  • They maintain continuous possession of the property during a specified time period.
  • According to the regulations of their respective states, they have actual possession of the property for a predetermined period.
  • Unless the rightful owner of the property attempts to evict or remove them within a specified period of time, they are legally allowed to stay.

In the eyes of the law, squatters possess certain rights and protections.

Suppose you come across anybody on your property without authorization. In that case, it is essential to follow all legal requirements while resolving the issue of legal ownership.

A beautiful vacant house in a suburban neighborhood

Homeowners Rights When You Have a Squatter

Your rights depend partly on whether the unwanted resident is a trespasser or a squatter.

Squatter vs. trespasser

Trespassing is a criminal offense, and one can risk legal repercussions.

Squatting, on the other hand, falls under civil law; however, if utility bills are unpaid or eviction notices disregarded, the authorities may arrest those squatting as they have become a nuisance to others.

When looking at the difference between a trespasser and a squatter in legal terms, it is essential to note that while a trespasser breaks into your property illegally, a squatter takes advantage of an unlocked door or open window. In some cases, they may even use already broken windows for access.

Your rights when you find a squatter

When you find squatters on your property, you should act quickly to prevent them from obtaining legal rights. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will become to eliminate them, as they may try to make a legal claim.

You have the right to evict a squatter from your home. However, evicting an unwanted occupant from your property could take a great deal of time, energy, and money to resolve – particularly if the squatter insists that they are legally entitled to remain on the premises.

A beautiful beige-painted house with a clear blue sky in the background

Can You Sell a House with a Squatter

The process of evicting squatters is financially and emotionally draining.

After they are out, you will almost certainly be stuck with a total renovation project. Offloading a property that hosts squatters can be an excruciatingly challenging task, as it is virtually inconceivable for the regular inspections of potential buyers to occur. 

Squatting is an ever-present issue that has been a source of worry and stress for those who own vacant properties. Fortunately, options are available if you find yourself in such a situation.

Renovate your property for a traditional sale

Home renovations can maximize the worth of your property, yet some may not be capable of undertaking significant remodeling work. The value of a former squatter property could be negatively impacted by insufficient demand and the possibility of increased criminal activity.

Short sale

If you’re unable or unwilling to invest in repairs on the property, a short sale may be an option. A short sale is when you sell your home for less than it’s worth – not optimal, but still beneficial if speed and minimal effort are essential factors. With this option, you can leave quickly without worrying about costly renovations.

Sell to a cash buyer

Selling your home when squatters have occupied it takes work, especially if you’re in a rush. A cash buyer may be your best option because they can help simplify this process. A cash buyer will purchase the house regardless of its state — even if previous occupants cause issues.

A yellow eviction notice stamped on the broken-down door of a house

How to Get a Squatter Out of Your Home

Before you’re forced to confront a squatter, you must become familiar with your state’s:

  • eviction laws
  • landlord-tenant laws
  • property laws
  • tenant rights
  • squatters rights laws

With this knowledge, any unexpected issues can be quickly resolved without worry or stress. In general, here are the steps you should take:

#1: Notify the police

As soon as you identify that unauthorized tenants have entered your property without authorization, contact the police promptly.

If eviction is your only option, providing the court with a police report will prove that you attempted to abide by legal procedures to convince the person to leave.

Before the eviction process is finalized, hold off on changing locks and turning off utilities even after alerting law enforcement.

#2: Start the formal eviction process

An eviction notice, also referred to as an “unlawful detainer” in certain states, begins the eviction procedure.

While you could try serving the notification yourself, hiring a real estate lawyer who can send formal legal notices through a professional process server is wise. Doing so will ensure that your rights are protected and that all proper paperwork has been completed per state laws.

#3: File for eviction

If the illegal occupant ignores the eviction notice and refuses to vacate, it’s time to take legal action by filing an eviction lawsuit.

Many real estate attorneys specializing in residential evictions provide legal advice for a fixed fee.

After the eviction process and a court hearing, you should get a court judgment. Then, local law enforcement must be contacted to evict the individual from your property legally.

#4: Written notice and remove squatters’ possessions

Before evicting any personal belongings of a squatter, most states mandate that the landlord provides written notification and that you make a good-faith effort to notify.

If the illegal occupant has left your property and cannot be located, the court can give you permission to publicize or announce notice of their eviction on-site.

What are Squatters Rights [Everything You Need to Know] Mistakes Not to Make When Getting a Squatter Removed from Your Home

Mistakes Not to Make When Getting a Squatter Removed from Your Home

Do not try to remove squatters through intimidation or violence, as this is unlawful and could lead to official prosecution. The best course of action when trying to evict a squatter is to do so safely and according to the law.

When a squatter is occupying the premises, it is not permissible to intentionally terminate their utilities. Deliberately turning off utilities to force someone out is a definite no-no. This so-called “self-help eviction” strategy has been known to backfire if brought before the court and should be avoided at all costs.


Property owners must stay alert to unauthorized individuals residing on their property. If they detect a squatter, it is essential that the owner adheres to all relevant laws and follows appropriate eviction procedures.

Battling squatters on your land can be frustrating and lengthy, often necessitating an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict them. Taking legal action to handle illegal squatters and reclaim your property is essential. Following these steps will ensure you can regain possession, so trust the process and be patient.

It’s expensive to deal with squatters and the cost of selling a home can be an unwanted burden. Not to mention, the process of selling a home can be complicated and requires lots of paperwork.

We specialize in purchasing squatter properties and have already assisted several homeowners with similar circumstances to sell their homes fast. Don’t wait any longer–get your cash for a home offer now by completing our online form!

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