As a homeowner or rental property owner it’s important that you have a clear understanding of squatters rights – or adverse possession – and how they can affect you if you have a vacant property. Myths and legends about these mysterious rights abound, so we’re going to take a look at the actual laws that address the issue.
Many people believe that simply moving into a home and calling it their own means they can take legal possession of the property. This is correct – but the conditions are far more time-consuming and complex than these squatters might think.
All states have statutory regulations regarding moving into a vacant property, and most require a long period of occupation before
there’s any chance of the squatter calling the home truly their own. California and Texas are on the shorter side – these states allow people to take possession if they live in the property – openly, that is, in a way that’s obvious to outsiders – for five years, provided they pay the property taxes on the home. Others, like New Jersey, require an occupation period of 30 years. Other states allow possession if the occupant is able to produce some type of document or deed relating to the property within an allotted period – typically 10-20 years.
While it’s unlikely that an owner would leave their property unattended long enough for squatter’s rights to take effect, it’s important to realize that dealing with getting the people out – even if they’re illegally occupying the home – can be costly and time-consuming.