What Are Squatters Rights in Alaska
For many years, it was possible to find a piece of land in Alaska, tame it, and be able to call it your own. Before 2003, it was even possible to live on any property in the state for 7-10 years and be able to call it your own, even if it was legally owned by someone else. Senate Bill 93 changed all of the squatter's rights in Alaska to make it one of the most difficult states to acquire property through adverse possession.
Households Must Have a Legitimate Claim to Land
After 2003, households are no longer able to move into property, live in it continuously, and then file a claim for adverse possession 7-10 years later. Land owners must have continuously inhabited their land and had a reasonable belief of ownership in order to make such a claim today. This includes taking care of all rights and responsibilities of ownership, including any taxation issues that may arise from the area. This means anyone who lives on property that is not their own knowingly will be classified as a squatter. Property owners have legal rights to remove squatters, but they must follow a similar process through civil court to have squatting households removed as they would delinquent or noncompliant tenants.
Self-Eviction Is Illegal in Alaska
Property owners who self-evict squatters may be held liable for damages they inflict on those being removed. Threatening squatters, removing personal possessions, and even changing locks may be cause for litigation to begin. The good news is that if there are damages to the property in excess of $400 from squatting, a 24 hour notice can be served and the civil eviction process can begin immediately. A process server is best for this notice as anything sent by mail extends all deadlines by 72 hours. If the squatters do not move out, a court date will be set where a judgment will be issued. Most squatters do not appear in court, so a default judgment will be issued. Property owners must then obtain a Writ of Assistance so that law enforcement officials can physically remove the squatters if necessary. Any personal property left behind must be stored for 15 days before being disposed of at the property owner's discretion. Squatters have few rights in Alaska. The process may be prolonged to legally remove them, but there is no risk of adverse possession in almost all cases.
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