Perhaps you’ve heard of a squatter tenant – what is a squatter tenant? Modern-day squatters are more likely to be renters or their friends who overstayed their welcome and don’t want to pay rent to live on the property than they are to be armed robbers seeking to take it from you. Yes, your renters have the potential to squat on your property.
This circumstance is uncommon, making it more challenging for homeowners to cope. The lack of understanding may result in enormous losses of money, time, and property for most homeowners.
If you knew how to deliver a formal eviction notice or whom to contact, you could ensure that you or the police know how to remove squatters from your property per the law.
We’ve put together this quick guide so that you, as a homeowner, can learn the ins and outs of dealing with squatters in a vacant property and avoid putting yourself into legal hot water.
What Is A Squatter?
It’s challenging to provide a single definition of squatters since they might appear in several forms, each of which is distinct.
You’re not alone if you find yourself in the middle of a squatter situation. A squatter, for example, may be:
- Intruders that break into or enter an empty home and begin residing there;
- Whoever continues to live in a rental property after their rental term has ended;
- A victim of renter fraud who has paid rent to a person who does not have the right or authority to rent it out; and
- Whoever feels they have the legal right to occupy a property even if it is not presently in their name.
Attempts to establish whether squatters and trespassers are the same or if there are distinctions between these two types of folks sometimes result in more uncertainty.
Squatters and trespassers have quite different legal meanings, despite their similarities. Pinpointing the precise difference might be a challenge, however.
Property is being unlawfully entered in both instances. Trespassing tends to be temporary, with the perpetrator not intending to remain. Squatters, on the other hand, are more likely to assert property ownership or claim authorization to occupy it.
Squatters often distinguish themselves from trespassers by claiming the address as their own on official papers like telephone or utility bills.
Squatters often want to stay in a place for an extended period without paying property taxes or rent.
Trespassers often have short-term goals and do not make any effort to stake a claim to the property they are occupying.
The police may simply remove trespassers, but evicting squatters is subject to a particular set of procedures that all parties concerned must follow.
Given their striking resemblance, why can’t you kick out a squatter? Unfortunately, squatters’ rights exist, and you can’t just kick them off your land.
What Rights Does A Squatter Have?
There are a few fundamental rights that squatters in Texas enjoy. Even though they don’t own the property, they still have rights to it under the law. They may remain on the land for as long as they don’t get an eviction notice, and in time, they may be able to establish legal ownership rights to the property.
Even the most determined homeowners or property management companies may find it difficult to remove a squatter from their property for months or even years. Because of this, it’s crucial to know how to avoid squatters in the first place if you want to keep control of your home.
A squatter may obtain legal rights to your property via an adverse possession claim under Texas squatters’ law. If the squatter meets several conditions, they might file an adverse possession claim under the law and achieve “color of title.” A squatter must fulfill five unique criteria to file an adverse possession claim in Texas.
They need to be able to:
1. Raise a hostile claim;
2. Handle the property as if it were their own;
3. Squatters must occupy the home for at least ten years;
4. Possess the property or structure exclusively; and
5. Ensure that they meet the open and notorious requirement of being evident to the general public that they reside in the house instead of hiding the fact they are occupying the property.
What Rights Does A Property Owner Have?
Call the police if you have any reason to believe there may be squatters on your property. Maintain your composure, and let the appropriate authorities handle the problem.
Here are your rights as a property owner:
- To Chat With Neighbors. Spread the news that someone may be trespassing on your property by conversing with your neighbors. Squatters may or may not pose a threat, but it is still vital that your neighbors know who is on the property.
- To Take Photos and Videos. How to get rid of a squatter? You’ll need to gather proof to get the police involved. Owners may use this proof to eject the intruders if they decide to sue.
- To Engage in Your Own Way. You don’t need to engage in conversation with the squatters, and if you are afraid of them, don’t. All that is required is you note what you’ve seen and then contact the necessary parties. A group of neighbors may approach the squatters if you don’t feel comfortable doing so alone. Having more people to fall back on is a good thing.
- To Put the Cops on Notice. The authorities can establish whether the persons currently occupying the property are squatters or trespassers. Trespassers are subject to quick removal by the police. Squatters, on the other hand, might be impossible to dislodge quickly.
- To Make a Complaint to the City Council. Looking for creative ways to get rid of squatters? You may phone your local city inspector to catch a squatter’s attention. Inform them that the property is dilapidated and request that they come out to inspect it.
- To File an Eviction Notice. This is your property, and your immediate steps should be to protect it against squatters by way of lawful removal.
How Can A Property Owner Remove A Squatter?
- How to get squatters out of your house? Get in touch with the police right away. The police will almost certainly want to see the documentation that you own the residence, and they may also need to speak with the squatter to confirm their status. Keep your cool if they don’t remove the offender right away. Although it may be difficult to perceive, they must obey the rules.
- The homeowner should serve an eviction notice as quickly as possible to the squatters. Send your notice as soon as you’ve finished preparing the relevant paperwork. The information in the eviction notice must meet local regulations, so ensure you follow them. A five-day waiting time after submitting the notification, or sending the notice by certified mail, are two examples of such requirements.
- You may file a civil action against an intruder who refuses to leave your property after being provided with a notice to depart. Consult your state and local legislation for specifics on where you should submit your case and what facts you should provide to support your claim. You’ll be required to appear in court for an eviction hearing.
- How to evict a squatter? After your eviction hearing, you’ll get a court ruling that you may show so the police can officially evict a squatter. If you have to pay a charge, it’s definitely worth it compared to the cost of having a squatter on your land.
- How to deal with squatters? It is common to find yourself dealing with an abandoned property while dealing with squatters. Although you may be tempted to dispose of or sell their objects promptly, the law may not permit this. Find out what you can and can’t do with abandoned property in your area by checking regulations. Many states require you to keep it in good faith for a period of time. You may take the squatters to small claims court to recoup any fees as a result of this.
Squatters do have rights, but if you are a property owner, you have a responsibility to do all in your power to prevent squatters from winning the right to your land.
How to prevent squatters? Check on your property often to ensure that a squatter has not taken up residence while it is unoccupied because of maintenance or tenant turnover. If by some remote chance you do discover a squatter, you should immediately take measures to have them removed. This includes putting up no trespassing signs, initiating the eviction procedure, and notifying the police.