What Are Squatters Rights in New Jersey
Squatters rights are a term given to adverse possession laws that exist at the state level throughout the US. They essentially allow someone to trespass onto someone's property, use it as their own, and do so continuously over a period of time in order to gain the actual title to the land. Many adverse possession cases involve boundary disputes, but it is possible to obtain houses and land through this process as well if enough time elapses.
New Jersey Has Extensive Time Requirements
Squatters have a difficult time obtaining the title to any property under New Jersey law. For most types of property, all of the elements of adverse possession must be in place for a minimum of 20 years. If the land is not cultivated in any way, then squatting must occur for a minimum of 30 years before a claim can be filed. The occupation of the property must be open and continuous. The squatters would likely be able to take a family vacation and leave their possessions behind and have that considered continuous occupation. Having one set of squatters remove their possessions and then 3 months later new squatters come in to occupy the property may not meet the continuous occupation standard. Unlike some other states, however, New Jersey does not require an act of intentional hostility in order to establish an adverse possession claim. Someone may mistakenly believe they have the right to occupy the property in question and this satisfies the adverse possession requirements.
An Active Defense Against Adverse Possession
If property owners are concerned that their land might be subjected to a future adverse possession claim, then a lawsuit can be filed to obtain what is known as a Quiet Title. This is a legal declaration from the court that the property owner is the recognized owner of the land and/or its structures which may be in question. Because some level of hostility must also be present, property owners can give their permission for squatters to be on their land. This removes the hostile component of a claim. Squatters rights in New Jersey are in place to make sure that all land within the state is used to its maximum potential. By knowing your rights, you'll be able to protect your best interests, no matter which side of the adverse possession debate you find yourself on.
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