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Adverse Possession

Do squatters have rights in the United States?


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Yes in many states they do...but there are many requirements that must be met before they can claim any rights to the property,A Squatter is refered to as An adverse possessor,and an adverse possessor must possess land openly for all the world to see, as a true owner would. Secretly occupying another's land does not give the occupant any legal rights. Clearing, fencing, cultivating, or improving the land demonstrates open and notorious possession, while actual residence on the land is the most open and notorious possession of all. The owner must have actual knowledge of the adverse use, or the claimant's possession must be so notorious that it is generally known by the public or the people in the neighborhood.

Adverse possession will not move into legal title unless the claimant has had exclusive possession of the land. Exclusive possession means sole physical occupancy of the property.This means if you allow someone to live on the property that you yourself are living on as well then they can not claim squatters rights to the property.they are only entitled to the rights of a tenant.

Adverse possession must be continuous for the full statutory period ifthe claim is to become legal. Continuity means regular, uninterrupted occupancy of the land. Mere occasional or sporadic use is not enough.the squatter must prove that they have resided on the land for the full length of the term.These terms vary from state to state with the minimum average being 10 years and the max average being 30 years.
However there are several states that do not recognize squatters rights at all period and view squatters as mere tresspassers which are forcefully removed by law enforcement upon request of the land owner.

Many times squatters have extreme trouble when trying to lay claim to land since the burden of proof is completely on them and in many cases the squatter can not prove that a verbal rental aggreement for cash did not exist between them and the land owner.In many cases the squatter is removed by law enforcement as a tresspasser and does not have the finances to hire an attorney to lay claim to the property..

Another Perspective

No. There is no such thing as squatters "rights" in the United States. Until a person has satisfied all the state requirements needed to perfect a claim of adverse possession, and then takes the legal steps to perfect that claim, they are considered a trespasser and they have no rights during their period of trespass.

In the traditional common law a person could obtain title to property through use. The common law has been codified under state and federal statutes. Under the various state codes, a person must use the land for a certain number of years, without permission and right out in the open for all the world to see.

If the owner does nothing she is considered to have abandoned the property and the adverse possessor can claim the land. The method of claiming by adverse possession varies from state to state. Some states require only that a notice be recorded in the land records. Other states require that an action be brought in a court of equity and if the plaintiff can prove his case the judge issues a court order that establishes title in the plaintiff.

If a person uses or lives on another person's land with permission, no matter how long, they are barred from making an adverse possession claim.

Adverse possession has a dark side in American history when during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Black land owners were run off their land in several states, barred from returning and their "abandoned" farms were taken by adverse possession by others who were not in the minority. Many people currently hold title under those immoral claims.