However, in cases where squatters have de facto ownership, laws have been changed to legitimize their status. Adverse possession, also known as squatter’s rights, allows squatters to acquire the property if they meet certain requirements, including living on the property for a certain period of time.
For example, the state of New York grants adverse possession rights to squatters if they occupy the property for 10 years and hold the property as if they are the real owner. In contrast, the laws in New York City are radically different from New York state. If a squatter occupies a property for consecutively 30 days they gain rights to remain on the property as a tenant of the owner—even if they never signed a lease agreement.
Trespassers can become squatters, but not all squatters are trespassers. Say a trespasser breaks in and is staying in a vacant investment property that lacks a current tenant. If the individual is in fact trespassing, they can be apprehended by police. However, some police officers will refuse to get involved because that’s right on the line between trespassing and squatting.
Squatters require a legal eviction. Evictions can take up to a year, thus, it may be advisable for property owners to offer some form of cash payment to the trespasser in exchange for vacating the property.
- Call police
- Serve eviction notice
- File lawsuit
- Have squatter removed
- Handle leftover belongings.
Next, serve the squatter with an eviction notice. Be sure to follow any local requirements about the information that must be included in the eviction notice.
If the squatter does not leave after being served, it’s time to file a civil lawsuit. Check your state and local laws for details on which court you need to file with. You will have to attend an eviction court hearing.
Once you win the case, you may still need to have the squatter removed. Once you have a final court decision, you can present this to local police to have the squatter legally removed.
When dealing with squatters, you will often be faced with left behind property. While it may be tempting to immediately dump or sell the items, you may not be legally allowed to do so. Make sure to follow local and state laws and never use force or threats against the squatters.