Posted in Blog  
  on Nov 17, 2015

What Are Squatters Rights in Idaho

In general terms, squatters rights in Idaho are governed by the common law statutes which dictate how property is being used through adverse possession. An oral claim for possession is allowed in Idaho, but only when the squatters have been paying the property taxes on a parcel of land for a minimum of 20 years. All other provisions under Idaho law must also be met for an adverse possession claim to be filed. How could a property owner lose their Idaho property to squatters today? Here are the provisions that must be followed exactly for a claim to be heard.

1. The Property In Question Must Be Possessed And Occupied.

Squatters cannot simply decree that they are using a property for 5-20 years [depending on when the squatting began] and then file an adverse possession claim. It must be possessed and occupied for the prescribed period of time for their claim to be heard. There are two ways that squatters can meet this definition: 1) by creating a substantial enclosure on the property to help protect it; or 2) to cultivate or improve the property as any other property owner would do.

2. There Must Not Be a Written Instrument Of Ownership In Place.

An adverse possession claim will never be heard if a property owner has recorded a written instrument with their county clerk regarding their intent to use the property. Even if squatters are there without permission, this written instrument shows evidence that a property owner intends to use their land at some point and it negates the possession requirement of adverse possession.

3. Abandoned Property Still Isn't Unowned Property.

Squatters often take advantage of foreclosed properties as a method of attempting the adverse possession process. When this occurs, the property owner is the bank. They must follow the standard eviction process to remove the squatters from the property, but they have this right. Because of this, most adverse possession claims tend to involve neighbors instead of squatters attempting to get a house for free.

4. Granting Permission Negates Any Squatters Rights.

If a property owner in Idaho grants permission for squatters to be on their land, then this negates any rights that they may have for an adverse possession claim. The common law elements require that squatters be occupying a property with “hostility,” which basically means they are there without permission against the wishes of the owner. Once this element is removed, there is no adverse possession claim within the state.

5. Squatting Must Be Obvious.

Idaho requires squatters to move into a property and make it obvious that they are taking possession of it in some way. This might include changing the locks, posting signs that forbid trespassing, or having utilities hooked up to the location. Once this occurs and it is against the wishes of the property owner, then the eviction process must be followed.

6. Property Taxes Must Be Paid By The Squatters.

Many states allow for squatters to possess a property and eventually make a claim for adverse possession even if their actions are in bad faith. Idaho does not allow this. For an adverse possession claim to be heard, the squatters must have been paying the property taxes on a parcel of land that they are actively using for a minimum of 20 consecutive years (older adverse possession cases may still qualify for a 5 year period instead of 20 years). If the taxes are not paid, then the adverse possession claim cannot move forward.

7. Farmland May Be Exempted From Squatters Rights.

Idaho has right to farm laws which allow farmers to utilize their land in different ways. This even means they are allowed to create a public disturbance if their actions are for farming. If land is not being used, it could be that a farmer is allowing that land to rest for a season and this would potentially disqualify it being possessed by squatters.

8. Fence Laws May Not Qualify As Actual Possession.

Idaho allows a hedge to be considered a fence in some instances, but this does not mean the land outside of a property's boundaries is actually being possessed by someone else. Remember the property tax statute: unless the owner of the property is paying the actual taxes of the land that is not theirs on their side of a fence, an adverse possession claim will generally be disallowed. What are squatters rights in Idaho? Although this state in the past had laws that could be easily fulfilled in the past, those laws have changed and now property owners have the advantage.

Know these key points and you'll be able to know how to respond to the idea of adverse possession on either side of the debate.


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