According to the UN, 10% of the world’s population are estimated to be squatters. In the US, particularly, squatters continue to be a persistent problem for property managers. The housing bubble in North America too led to a significant increase in squatters as affordable housing got harder to find.
Property managers have taken preventative measures by investing in lockboxes to keep their properties safe.
As we move forward with our blog, it’s important to know who exactly qualify as squatters.
The first distinction to make is between trespassers and squatters.
Trespassers enter the property for a short period of time, sometimes with the intent to cause damage. They may live on the property temporarily and do not claim ownership. Trespassers have rights too but it is easier to classify their actions as illegal and therefore evict them.
Squatters, on the other hand, reside on the property for years at an end and claim ownership. Hence, getting rid of squatters is harder and more often than not, a legal headache. Squatters have also been given rights by each state, making it possible for them to claim ownership.
Squatter tenants are the existing tenants who:
Dealing with squatters can be a massive headache for property managers. It costs time, energy and money that they often can’t spare. According to property management experts, here are a few effective and simple tips to avoid squatters on your property:
If you find squatters on your property, you have to take an immediate action. Any delays on your part will only strengthen the squatter’s claim. Here are the necessary steps you must take to get of squatters.
Unfortunately, if you do find squatters on your property, there is no easy way to get rid of them. Squatters have rights, protected by their state. Here’s a list of things you absolutely cannot do should you ever find yourself in this situation:
Squatter rights, simply put, give squatters a chance at ownership of the property if they haven’t been evicted by the rightful owners within a set period of time. This period is called the statute of limitations and it differs from state to state.
These are the 6 states with the most lenient squatter rights. Here’s what is required of the squatter in each state to claim ownership:
Arkansas and Utah: Live on the property and pay taxes for 7 years
California and Montana: Lived on the property and pay taxes for 5 years
Florida: Live on the property for 7 years and either hold a color of title or pay taxes
Tennessee: Live on the property for 7 years and have a color of title.
Having "color of title" means possessing a property without proper registration or missing necessary legal documents. It can be claimed through an adverse possession claim if the squatter fulfills certain legal requirements.
Adverse possession is the when squatters are legally granted ownership of the property. Yes, it happens. Property managers should be aware of the adverse possession laws in their state and have a real estate attorney who is experienced in squatter evictions to avoid a lengthy legal battle.
The silver lining - there are a lot of conditions that must be met before a squatter qualifies for adverse possession.
While squatters exist in almost every state, it is not necessary that you will have you deal with one. However, it is still advised that you take the necessary precautions to avoid squatters. In case you do find squatters on your property, immediately seek legal help and ensure all communication is formal and in accordance with state laws.
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