Posted in Blog  
  on Jan 29, 2015

What Are Squatters Rights in Texas

Squatters might be an inconvenience to landlords and property owners, but they do have rights that cannot be violated. The first thing that anyone should do if they discover squatters on their property is to contact the police. If your home is actively lived in, then this may be considered a break-in and the squatters will be removed. If there isn't any active living on the property and the squatters have set up utility accounts, you may need to take civil action instead. If your property is in Texas, however, you have an advantage when it comes to handling squatters. What are squatter's rights in Texas? Let's take a look.

It Takes 30 Years of Adverse Possession For Success

The conditions for squatters to be able to claim adverse possession are very difficult to achieve. The squatters must be living on the property continuously and without permission. They must also prove that they are behaving as the property owner, perform maintenance on the property, and reside their alone [or with their household]. Texas requires these conditions to be met for 30 years for adverse possession to occur. Texas also requires that all elements of adverse possession be in place for a deed to be drawn up in the squatter's name. Because of the 30 year minimum requirement of living on a property, there are a lot of things that can happen. Witnesses to the adverse possession may move away or pass away. The legal owner of a property might be able to prove that they granted the squatters the legal permission to live on the property at any time during this 30 year period. If there is just one missing element to an adverse possession case, it will be dismissed. Only if all elements are in place and the squatters have been there for 30 years without permission will an adverse possession claim be considered successful. At that point, the property deed will be treated as if cash or other valuable goods were exchanged for the it. If there is any outstanding debt or liens on the property, they become the responsibility of the previous property owner, not the squatter.

What About the Affidavit Method of Adverse Possession?

Texas has a century old law that has a potential loophole in it regarding adverse possession. It was used in 2011 to allow Kenneth Robinson to move into a foreclosed home that was worth $340k. The loophole was deemed to be invalid, however, and Robinson was given an order to move out of the home. Robinson's efforts inspired others to try moving into homes that weren't theirs as well. The only problem was that 8 people actually moved into homes that were actively occupied. This caused charges of burglary to be filed against them and some defendants received sentences that included fines up to $10,000. Texas passed legislation in 2013 that permanently closed this loophole. The good news for property owners in Texas is that they have plenty of time to deal with squatters that might be on their land. The bad news is that if that property is being used for rental income, it means money is being lost every day. By knowing the rights of squatters in Texas, however, every property owner can take the actions that are necessary to claim their property back.


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