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15 States Where Squatters Can Legally Claim Your Property As Their Own

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Recently, the new trending topic has been squatter’s rights, based on a story in New York City. You may think it relates only to New York, but you will be pleasantly surprised about the different states on this list. These states can include California and even the Lone Star State. Squatters have rights in many of these states that you may not have realized. The state of Florida has changed their squatter rights to help the owners.

1. California 

San Francisco
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It always seems sunny in California until you find out that a squatter has been living in one of your homes. In California, a squatter can obtain legal ownership of a home if they have resided there continuously for five years straight. At that time, they also had to pay property taxes to have any legal claim for the property. 

2. Texas

Austin, Texas
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You may think it is just blue states with these squatter laws, but even in the Lone Star State of Texas, someone can start living on your property, and they can take ownership of it. In Texas, a squatter can live on a property for at least three years to be considered the owner or five years of paying property taxes on the said property. In Houston, a teacher and her family squatted in a luxury home even after many attempts by the owner to change the locks. 

3. New York

New York City
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In the big Apple, where no one ever sleeps, you will find that lawmakers are quickly trying to write bills to limit squatters’ rights. Squatters have official rights after 30 days of living in a location. That means no change of locks, getting rid of possessions, or cutting off utilities. At that point, the owner needs to take them to court to evict them, which can be a two-year process. 

Do not leave your residence for more than 30 days; otherwise, a squatter can jump right in and stay for two years. 

4. Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is known for being a state throughout history, from the Boston Tea Party to Tom Brady winning many Super Bowls. Did you know a squatter needs just 20 years of continuous stay at a residence to claim it as its own? For those people who love history and own some of these colonial pieces, be aware and visit your properties.

5. Illinois

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Illinois may have some of the toughest laws for squatters, with a requirement that they live in a place continuously for 20 years. After 20 years, it can be hard to kick these residents out. So, do your due diligence and check on your property occasionally. 

6. Georgia

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The Peach State is full of many different landscapes with mountains, beaches, and, of course, peach groves. Just remember to check on your property now and then. A squatter can actively obtain possession of the property after living there for 20 years permanently, and they do not have to pay property taxes. 

7. North Carolina

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Coastal cities and mountain towns make North Carolina an appealing place to move. If you decide to reside in an abandoned property for over 20 years, you can take ownership of it. That is the law in North Carolina. Squatters have a 20-year period to stay before they can claim it as their own. 

8. New Jersey

Cape May, NJ
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Talk about some strict laws; New Jersey does not mess around with squatters. They need to live on the property for a continuous 30 years, and if the property is in the woodlands, it must be 60 years to take full ownership. You may have better luck going to New York. 

9. Ohio

Columbus, Ohio
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Ohio may have football, but they also have lengthy squatter requirements too—21 whole years to obtain the property. The long game may be in play for some settlers in Ohio. 

10. Pennsylvania

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From the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich to the Amish country, Pennsylvania offers many visitors and new residents a place to explore and settle down. 

The laws are a bit more strict in Pennsylvania. Before they can officially take possession of the property, squatters must reside on it for at least 21 continuous years. As an owner, make sure to check on the property now and then. 

11. Wisconsin

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Cheese, very nice mid-western people, beer, and, of course, Green Bay Packer fans are what you will find in Wisconsin. You will need at least 20 continuous years enduring the cold weather in a property to claim as your own if you are a squatter. It would be better just to move to Florida and squat in one of those homes. 

12. Nevada

Las Vegas
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You will find casinos, gambling, shows, and much more in the desert. Squatters are now occupying those old Ghost towns you will find in the desert, and they have rights. 

Squatters can take ownership after 15 years of continuous occupation. So, for those landowners, make sure no one is there illegally.

13. South Carolina

Greenville, SC
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Southern Charm meets squatters’ rights. In the great state of South Carolina, where we have historic cities like Charleston, squatters have some rights and, if they are smart, can obtain property pretty quickly. 

A property is considered abandoned after 90 days without a formal owner claim. At that point, a squatter must live in the property consecutively for 10 years to gain ownership.

14. Washington

Olympia, Washington
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In a place full of coffee, grunge, and rain, you may wonder about squatters’ rights. In Washington, you need a color of title, seven years of occupation, and payment of property taxes to claim the property; otherwise, it takes 10 years. 

15. Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
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The open frontier in Alaska makes it a great location to go fishing and enjoy the old weather, and it could be your last place to visit for those looking to be a settler. 

If you own a cabin or even have some untouched land, beware of squatter rights. A property can change ownership after a squatter has lived there continuously for 7-10 years. 

A Reality Check

Savannah, Georgia
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Squatters’ rights should be a reality for all owners. Leaving a property unoccupied for years is no longer necessary because someone who knows their rights a bit better may start squatting on your property. Here is a list of 16 states, but many more also have squatter’s rights. 

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Augusta, Georgia
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