What Are Squatters Rights in Oklahoma
Adverse possession laws in Oklahoma allow someone to become a continuous trespasser and eventually be able to claim a property title because of their actions if certain conditions are met during the process. Sometimes this process is referred to as squatter's rights, since people who are inhabiting the property don't have permission to be there. Under Oklahoma law, there are six specific conditions that must be met for an adverse possession claim to be considered valid.
1. It Must Be Actual Occupation. Squatters that wish to file an adverse possession claim must actually be living on the premises in question. It requires the squatters to take on the full duties of a property owner, including paying the property taxes and maintaining the property. The average person would believe that the actions of the squatters indicate ownership.
2. It Must Be Open, Not Secretive. Squatters can't sneak into a property every night with no one looking and then eventually file an adverse possession claim. They must be seen, observed, and have all of their actions be available to public inspection.
3. It Must Be Exclusive Occupation. Squatters can't switch out with one another in order to keep the clock ticking on the amount of time the property must be occupied. For an adverse possession claim to be filed, the same squatters must exclusively occupy the property in question for the full amount of required time.
4. It Must Be Without Permission. The possession of the property must be without the consent of the property's owner. Although this part of the legal process of adverse possession has varying degrees of complexity, it basically means that property is being used by someone without having any sort of documented permission to do so.
5. It Must Be Continuous. Oklahoma law requires that squatters be present on the property in question for a minimum of 15 years.
6. It Must Be Uninterrupted. Just as a regular homeowner is allowed to be away from their property and still call it their own, an adverse possession can continue on while someone takes a vacation, business trip, or fulfills other responsibilities. What cannot happen is a squatter moving in their furniture, never really occupying the abandoned property, and then try to make an adverse possession claim. Oklahoma law does allow property owners up to 2 years to contest an adverse possession claim. It is also important to realize that there are certain actions that people can take to make it seem like they own a property parcel and then file an adverse possession claim for it.
Oklahoma Squatter's Rights Include Partial Property Allotments
Squatters do not need to occupy an entire portion of property in order to be able to file a legal claim for it. The simple action of caring for a certain piece of land without permission, such as mowing the same strip of lawn or planting a row of hedges outside of a known property boundary and then caring for it, may meet the legally valid definition of squatting so that an adverse possession claim can be made. For Oklahoma property owners, this means one of the best proactive methods of protecting oneself against a future adverse possession claim is to have the land completely surveyed. Have the property lines marked and then fence in the property being protected in some way. This won't provide a 100% guarantee against a claim, but it does prove that you have a vested interest in the property in question. Never assume where the legal property boundaries happen to be, even if the information has been passed along for generations within a family. If there is an abandoned piece of property that has continuous trespassers on the land, then the fastest way to negate an adverse possession claim is to give those squatters permission to be there. Documented permission of occupation removes the hostile element that is required under Oklahoma law so that an adverse possession claim cannot be successfully made. Always respond quickly to any claim, even though there may be a 2 year response period, to make sure any claim is quickly negated. Some may feel that the adverse possession laws were useful at one point in time when there was a lot of unoccupied land, but that their time may be done. Until the laws about squatter's rights are wiped off the books in Oklahoma, however, there is still the chance to receive a property title without ever paying for it. Know your rights and you'll be able to protect your best interests.
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