house squatter laws

How You Can Wisely Deal with House Squatters

Did you know that you could lose ownership of your property to someone with no legal claim to it? Unfortunately, this is possible. As a landlord, squatters are among the worst nightmares.

A house squatter is a person who lives in your house with no legal claim to the property.  This can refer to a homeless person or a tenant who has stopped paying rent.

Owning a property without paying a cent for it is a legal reality some house squatters are reaping from. Being ignorant about the law is not an excuse or limitation. Let’s answer a few questions about house squatters.

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What is legal about house squatters?

Squatter’s rights, also known as adverse possession, are a declaration that someone is authorized to own property after he/she has been squatting there.

Many countries allow Squatters to gain legal possession of a property after complying with the following legal requirements:

  1. One must occupy the said property for the required timespan without the original owner using it or aware of their existence. The period of occupation varies with different state laws. For Instance, in the state of California, the timespan is at least five years.
  2. The Squatter must pay homeowners association fees, taxes, and other costs relating to ownership of the property for a stipulated period of time in order to claim legal ownership of the property.
  3. The Squatter must use the property exclusively. The squatter cannot use the property along with other people or on behalf of someone else.

What steps should I take if I discover squatters on my property?

It is easier to guard your property against unwanted “guests” than evicting them. Unluckily not everyone is able to take the Precautionary measures. If you find out about squatters on your property, here are a few wise steps you can take.

Step #1: Remain calm

 It’s very tempting to act with hostility in the face of a frustrating squatter situation. It’s illegal to intimidate or threaten them. Stay calm and handle the situation cautiously.

Step #2: Call the local police

The police will help you establish if the person is a trespasser or a squatter. If it’s a trespasser they will help you to remove them promptly. However, if it’s a squatter they will step away and advise you to begin taking legal action.

Step #3: Issue an eviction Notice

Find out about your state and local requirements for which paperwork you need to legally get the person out. Serve the eviction notice right away through certified mail and keep a copy of the receipt.

Do not take too long to begin the eviction proceedings. Failure to file the eviction fast enough could put the ownership of the property in the hand of the squatter under adverse possession laws.

You might be fortunate they leave after the eviction notice. Nevertheless, they may not. At this point, you must bring in a lawyer.

Step #4: File a civil lawsuit.

Once more check on the protocol for the specific pieces of information that you will need to present. It is crucial to keep a record of all communication between you and the squatter.

The information can act as evidence that you tried to remedy the situation. Make sure you attend all court eviction hearings.

How long will it take to regain possession of my property?

 Mostly the process of getting rid of squatters takes weeks, months, or even years. 

Once you win the civil lawsuit has the Squatter removed. You can do this by presenting the final court decision to the local police. They will have them evicted with a fee.

After their eviction, you will be faced with the left-behind property. It’s illegal to dump or sell the items. Rely on your local government on every action of getting your property back.

What should I do to prevent dealing with squatters?

 They say prevention is obviously better than cure.  It is best to prevent them from occupying your property than evicting them. Here are a few measures you can take

#1: Choose great tenants.

Thoroughly screen potential tenants to ensure you are signing a lease agreement with a responsible tenant.

#2: Make sure your property is locked and closed.

All entries should not be left open because, without evidence of forced entry, squatters cannot be treated as thieves.

#3: Install a security system.

These days it’s cheap to get a motion-sensing camera that sends you alerts and footage whenever someone tries to enter your property.

Conclusion

Maintaining a proactive approach to property management that prevents squatters is a worthy investment.

If you face the challenge of Squatters, seek legal advice.

Knowledge will not only help you to prevent squatters but also ensure you handle the situation carefully and stay in line with the law.

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