If you own a piece of property, there’s a good chance that someone else has squatted on it. Squatter rights are the legal rights given to those who have squatted on your property without permission. These laws vary from state to state, but generally, if someone lives in a home for at least three years without being evicted or paying rent, they can claim squatter’s rights as tenants by operation of law.
This can pose quite a problem if you suddenly realize someone is squatting on your land and refuse to leave when asked. If you own a house or other type of property, it’s important to know your rights as a property owner.
What are Squatters?
Squatters are people who occupy a property without the owner’s permission—usually, because they don’t know that it is owned by someone else. Squatters aren’t necessarily criminals; some may be down on their luck and just looking for a place to live. Others may be homeless people who move into abandoned buildings or homes that have not been maintained by their owners. All in all, they all have one thing in common: they don’t pay rent or taxes on the property they occupy.
What are Squatter Rights?
Squatter rights are legal claims that squatters make against property owners. Squatters can claim squatter rights if they have been occupying the property for a certain amount of time, usually through adverse possession. This allows them to legally take ownership of the property if they continue to occupy it without being evicted. If squatters aren’t removed by law enforcement or other authorities, they may be able to claim squatters’ rights and become the rightful owners of the land where they live.
Why Do Squatters Have Rights?
Squatter’s rights are an ancient legal concept that dates back to feudal England. It was a way for people who had settled on the land and built homes to keep the property after the original owner returned or died. It is the legal doctrine that says if someone has lived on your property for a certain period of time (and you were not aware of their presence), they can gain ownership of it through adverse possession. Squatters have rights because they have been there long enough that they can claim ownership of the property. The legal term for this is “adverse possession” and it means that someone has taken over a piece of land without permission and then held it for so long (usually at least 5 years) that the original owners no longer want it back.
Which States Have Squatters’ Rights?
Squatter’s rights can be found in most states, but they are not universal. Some states do not have any form of squatter’s rights. Here is a list of the states that allow squatters to gain ownership if they pay property taxes on their home:
- 18 Years: Colorado
- 15 Years: Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia
- 10 Years: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
- Seven Years: Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Utah
- Five Years: California, Montana
In all 50 states, in order to qualify for adverse possession laws, a squatter has to undergo litigation with the court to claim legal ownership over the vacant property and they must prove that they were on that piece of property for the statutory period during which time it was their main place of residence. They also have to claim that they have a deed to the property or that they paid property taxes for a specific length of time.
How to Get Rid of Squatters
It’s important for every property owner or landlord to know Kentucky squatter rights law in case they are illegally occupying your vacant property.
1: Call The Police Immediately
If you find a squatter on your property, immediately call the police and report it. You may also be able to remove squatters yourself, but this is extremely risky and not recommended. If there are multiple people or if they are armed, don’t try to remove them yourself.
2: Serve An Eviction Notice
If you rent out a property, it’s not uncommon for the tenant to move out without giving proper notice. When this happens, the landlord is responsible for finding a new tenant and getting them moved in as soon as possible.
However, if your former tenant has left behind people who aren’t paying rent or have no legal right to be on your property, then you won’t have any obligation to find new renters. Instead, you can evict these squatters and take back control of your property without having to worry about finding a new renter.
3: File A Lawsuit
If you have a squatter on your property, it’s important that you act fast. You can get rid of squatters by filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit against them. An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a type of eviction proceeding that allows landlords to remove renters from their property when they don’t pay rent or violate the lease.
Tips for Protecting Yourself From Squatters in Kentucky
Tip 1: Visit the Property Regularly
If you have a rural property or one that is hard to access, it’s important to visit regularly. This will help you spot any changes that indicate squatters may be present.
Tip 2: Window Locks
Security locks can be a great way to keep out unwanted visitors. We recommend installing them on all of your doors, including your windows. This will help prevent squatters from entering your home when they do not have permission and make it more difficult for them to break in if they do manage to get inside.
Tip 3: No Roof Access
If you want to keep squatters out of your vacant property, then you need to make it difficult for them to access your roof. One way to do this is by removing all of the ladders and tools that are on the property. If there are any parts of your roof that are broken or missing, then repair those immediately so that no one can climb up onto them.