Can I Throw a Squatter Out of a House?

A squatter's possession in an abandoned house.
Image Credit: saintho/iStock/GettyImages

Squatters occupy a property without permission. Many properties in foreclosure or that are unable to sell through foreclosure auction are abandoned and thus susceptible to squatters. If you purchase, own or become the landlord of a property occupied by squatters, they can be thrown out, or evicted. Some states have laws concerning squatters' rights and the process to evict them.

Squatters

If unauthorized people live in a house, they may be there by trespass or by squatting. The difference between the two is that a trespasser used force to enter the property, such as breaking a window or door. Squatters gain access to the home in another fashion that does not involve the act of trespassing. A squatter can access the property through an unlocked entrance or an already broken window. Trespassing is a crime, and authorities determine if the act of trespassing was committed. If so, the trespassers can be removed by law enforcement officials or arrested.

Squatters' Rights

Some states afford rights to squatters. Legally, squatting is called adverse possession. Over time, a squatter may obtain ownership rights to the property if certain conditions are met. The laws that outline these rights also vary among states. However, some common arguments to adverse possession include living in the property openly as an owner. In other words, not hiding the fact that you are living in the property. Another large factor in gaining these rights is the length of time the squatter has occupied the property without being asked to leave by the rightful owner. An attorney can advise in this situation.

Eviction

Squatters can be evicted from a house. It is important to research any laws regarding squatters' rights and tenant eviction in the state the property is in. Some states require that a written notice is served to the squatters, giving them time to relocate. In some situations, the squatters refuse to leave. Legal action is necessary in these cases. An attorney determines if the squatter actually has rights to the property or has tried to claim the property through a deed recorded with the county. The attorney can recommend an eviction company to evict the squatters.

Considerations

There many types of scams regarding squatters. Some con artists take advantage of innocent people looking to rent a place to live. Unknowingly, the tenants sign a lease and begin to pay rent for a property that the landlord is actually squatting in. Other scams include squatters requesting money to vacate the property. This often occurs in the case of bank-owned houses after a foreclosure. Other squatters just lie and say they are renting the property from someone else.

references