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What is a Squatter and what are their rights?

Marble Team Author ImageAuthor Image
Written by
Marble Team
Daniel Li
December 10, 2022
Who are squatters?

Anyone who starts residing on a piece of land or property without the required authorization is considered a squatter. In other words, they do not have permission to use the property and are not renting it from the owner, which violates landlord-tenant law.

Even without a lease agreement to contend with, you might assume that it would be simple to evict an unauthorized occupant from a vacant retail space or residential property. However, an unauthorized tenant—known legally as an adverse possessor—has the right to do so. Before the state's adverse possession law gives the squatters who have taken possession of the real property legal title, the property's rightful owner must take action (described above state by state).

What's the distinction between trespassing and squatting?

Trespassing is the illegal entry of a property, whether for a brief moment or to remain.

Squatting is technically a form of trespassing, but squatters go a step further because they intend to make the property their permanent home or assert an ownership claim.

Squatters frequently occupy unoccupied buildings and other unmanaged real estate. These structures are not only less strictly regulated, but they are also simpler to squat to gain legal possession.

Squatters are granted a certain set of rights. As a result, before they may be evicted, a court procedure must be followed.

What are Squatters' Rights?

Adverse possession is another name for squatter's rights, which give squatters the right to continue using or occupying a property in the event that the real owner or landlord does not take action within a set amount of time.

Squatters' rights are primarily intended to deter the use of vigilante justice. If landowners were permitted to evict squatters using force or the threat of force, the situation might swiftly deteriorate and turn dangerous. Additionally, it would foster a culture of vigilante justice that might spread to other spheres of life, diminishing the societal safety that people have grown to expect from their homes.

Squatters have rights, so justice can be more easily achieved in the long run. It is extremely similar to tenants' rights, which safeguard renters from irresponsible landlords. The laws clearly define each party's rights, ensuring stable real estate markets and (usually) calm talks.

Getting Rid of a Squatter

In the end, how you evict squatters from a property depends on your state and municipality. Where you live will determine the specifics of local laws and regulations.

A few things need to be done first, wherever you live. In most circumstances, you ought to at the very least do the following:

  1. Check to see if there are trespassers or squatters. You can make a police call for assistance to remove your inhabitants if they have only recently moved onto the property in accordance with breaking and entering laws. But if they've been residing there for a while, they'll be considered squatters.
  2. Start the eviction procedure. If the squatters don't leave, you could pursue an unlawful detainer case after filing for eviction. You may need to visit the police station or sheriff's office to have them removed from the property if they persist after the lawsuit.
  3. Don't delay. If the squatters dwell continuously on the land for a few months, they may be able to assert full ownership rights under laws governing adverse occupation. This is stopped by initiating an eviction process.
  4. Don't evict anyone in violation of the law. Despite how appealing it might seem, squatters must not be unlawfully removed. A lawful eviction procedure must be followed to prevent further problems.

Property Owners Must Understand Squatters' Rights

Taking control of your property without your permission may seem inconceivable, but property owners should be aware that it does happen occasionally.

Don't assume anything, even though you might imagine a squatter as a homeless person with few legal options. Squatters' rights may be used for various reasons, two of which are estate disputes and tenants with a history of rental property leases.

For this reason, anyone interested in learning how to be a landlord must become familiar with the legal rights and processes relating to tenants, squatters, and trespassers. If you have any concerns about these laws, it's also a good idea to speak with a lawyer. Although you hope you never have to deal with squatters, you'll be grateful to have authority on your side if you do.

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