Squatters’ rights have become a growing topic in the news over the last few years. High rents, urbanization, and increased migration towards cities are causing more and more people to be pushed out of the housing market, or to have their leases terminated. In this context, becoming a squatter may seem like a viable way to access affordable housing. However, it’s important to know that squatting is illegal in most places, and that the rights held by those who have established residence without permission are complex. In this article, we will explore the basics of the legal concept of adverse possession, commonly known as squatters rights, and what you need to know if you find yourself in this situation.
Adverse possession is a legal concept that allows someone to become the legal owner of a property by living in it openly and without resistance from the owner. The main premise is that if the owner has not claimed back their property, or forcibly removed the occupant, after a certain period of time, the occupant may be granted ownership. The specifics of this process vary by state and country, and we recommend you to look up the exact regulations where you live for more detail.
However, there are some general conditions that are usually required for someone to claim adverse possession. First of all, the occupation must be open and notorious, meaning the occupant has to act like an owner of the property, take care of it, and make it clear that they are living there. Secondly, it has to be continuous, meaning there can’t be any significant gaps or periods of time during which the occupation is interrupted. Thirdly, it has to be adverse, meaning the owner has not given permission for the occupation.
If you do have a claim on a property through adverse possession, there are several ways to legally claim the space as your own. In some cases, owners can be forced to sell the property to the occupant through court proceedings. However, be aware that this process can take years, and that the legal fees can be expensive. Other options include reaching a purchase agreement with the owner, or agreeing to pay rent as a tenant.
However, keep in mind that there are risks involved with squatting, and that it’s important to do your research before occupying a space. Firstly, it is illegal to occupy a property without permission, and the owner can take legal action against the occupant at any point. Secondly, even when you are granted adverse possession, this does not guarantee that you will be able to keep the property indefinitely. Owners can often claim back their property through legal means, such as appealing the court ruling or by regaining control of the space.
Furthermore, occupying a property without permission can be a risky process both in terms of safety and health. Often, squatters are forced to occupy unfinished or abandoned buildings which can be hazardous. Additionally, living without basic amenities such as running water, electricity, and adequate ventilation can pose severe health risks.
As property prices continue to rise, more and more people consider squatting as an option to access affordable living spaces. However, we want to advise you that squatting is illegal in most places and that the concept of adverse possession is complex and varies by location. If you find yourself in this situation, do your research and make sure you understand your rights and the risks involved before acting. Finally, remember that squatting should not be seen as a sustainable solution to the housing crisis, and that long-term changes in policies, including affordable housing targets, urban planning and regulatory norms should also be contemplated and addressed.