20 States Where Squatters Can Claim Property Rights

Adverse possession is the legal process whereby a non-owner occupant of a piece of land gains title and ownership of that land after a certain period of time. Beware that in these 20 states, squatters can gain legal ownership of your property.

Delaware

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Trespassers can acquire legal title after 20 years of actual, open, notorious, hostile, and exclusive possession in Delaware. Under claim of right, the time period is reduced to 10 years. The squatter’s use must be inconsistent with the owner’s rights.

Alabama

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A squatter can gain legal ownership after occupying property continuously for ten years in Alabama. They must also have color of title and pay property taxes during this period. Cornell Law says, “Color of title refers to a document or other instrument that appears to be a legitimate claim of title to a piece of land, but due to a title defect, cannot transfer or convey ownership.” The possession must be open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile to the owner’s interests.

Alaska

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Adverse possession after ten years of continuous occupation is allowed in Alaska. The squatter’s possession must be actual, open, notorious, continuous, exclusive, and hostile. Color of title and payment of taxes can sometimes reduce the period to seven years.

Arizona

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One of the adverse possession periods was just three years with the color of title and payment of property taxes. Without color of title, Arizona’s occupation period is extended to 10 years. The possession must be actual, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and hostile.

Arkansas

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Ownership is gained by squatters in Arkansas after seven years of continuous possession under color of title or 15 years without color of title. They must also pay property taxes during this time. The occupation must be actual, open, notorious, continuous, exclusive, and hostile to the owner.

California

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Five years of occupation while paying property taxes or ten years without tax payments are all a squatter needs in California. The possession must be open, notorious, and continuous during this time, as well as hostile to the owner’s title.

Colorado

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Laws in Colorado allow adverse possession after 18 years of continuous occupation or seven years with color of title and payment of property taxes. The squatter’s possession must be actual, adverse, hostile, and exclusive during the statutory period.

Connecticut

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The Constitution State grants adverse possession after 15 years of actual, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and hostile use of another’s property. With color of title, this period is reduced to just seven years in some circumstances.

Florida

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Seven years of continuous occupation with color of title and payment of property taxes, or 20 years without color of title for the Sunshine State. The squatter’s possession must be actual, open, notorious, and hostile to the owner’s interests.

Georgia

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The squatter’s use must be public, continuous, exclusive, uninterrupted, and hostile according to Georgia law, which allows adverse possession after 20 years of actual possession. With color of title and payment of property taxes, the statutory period is reduced to seven years.

Hawaii

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The occupation must be actual, open, notorious, hostile, and exclusive in Hawaii. Squatters can gain ownership by adversely possessing property for 20 continuous years. Color of title can reduce the statutory period to 10 years in some cases.

Idaho

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The Gem State grants adverse possession after 20 years of actual, open, notorious, hostile, and exclusive use. With the color of title and payment of property taxes, the time period is shortened to five years. The squatter’s use must be inconsistent with the owner’s rights.

Illinois

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Under color of title and payment of taxes, the statutory period is reduced to seven years in Illinois, which generally requires 20 years of continuous, hostile, actual, open, notorious, and exclusive possession to obtain title through adverse possession.

Indiana

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Investopedia says, “If there is an informal easement between two farms where one farmer’s fence has an acre of the neighbors’ land in it, for example, the farmer using it can claim adverse possession to essentially bite off that chunk of land if there is no written easement agreement.” In Indiana, a squatter can gain legal ownership after 10 years of actual, visible, open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile possession of property.

Iowa

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Faster Capital says that rental agreements often state provisions that prohibit tenants from making adverse possession claims on the property. These protect landlords from adverse possession claims by tenants who have been on the property for an extended period of time. Iowa law allows adverse possession after ten years of actual, open, notorious, hostile, and exclusive use. With the color of title and payment of taxes, the statutory period is reduced to five years. The squatter’s possession must be inconsistent with the owner’s rights.

Kansas

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Kansas grants adverse possession after 15 years of open, exclusive, and continuous possession. The squatter’s use must be either under a claim knowingly adverse to the owner or a belief of ownership. With color of title, the time period is ten years.

Kentucky

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Bankrate explains, “Squatting, or taking up unauthorized residence in an abandoned or unmonitored space, is illegal. However, a squatter intentionally occupying an abandoned home might be able to claim adverse possession.” In Kentucky, squatters can acquire ownership by adversely possessing property for 15 years. Color of title and payment of taxes can support an adverse possession claim.

Louisiana

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One of the most prolonged adverse possession periods at 30 years without a title is in Louisiana. A squatter must also demonstrate open, continuous, unequivocal, and uninterrupted possession that is adverse to the owner. With just a title and good faith, the time period is reduced to 10 years.

Maine

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The Pine Tree State law allows adverse possession after 20 years of actual, open, notorious, hostile, and exclusive use. The squatter’s possession must be inconsistent with the owner’s rights. Color of title and payment of taxes can bolster an adverse possession claim.

Maryland

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A squatter can gain a legal title in Maryland after 20 years of actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, and continuous possession. Justia explains, “The person may not occupy the land secretively or make efforts to remain undetected. A landowner is not required, however, to have actual knowledge of the occupation.” Under the color of title, the statutory period is reduced to seven years. Tax payments are not required, but they can support a claim.