There are many great reasons to be a landlord, but one of the most significant downsides is the potential for squatters on your property. Squatters are frustrating for landlords, those looking for roommates, and even those no longer living in their homes on the market. After all, they’re not paying property taxes, making rent payments, or dealing with any other bills. In short, they’re illegal renters.
If you’re living in Minnesota and believe you have a squatter or illegal tenant on your hands, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it. While squatting is unlawful, they have rights under Minnesota law. So, understanding squatters’ rights in Minnesota can help you prepare if you have squatters or might in the future.
What Are Squatters Rights
All 50 states offer rights to squatters. While this seems odd, it’s their legal right. Each state has similar laws, but there are some differences. Many people believe squatters and trespassers are the same, but under the law, they’re different.
Since trespassers do not have rights and squatters do, law enforcement handles trespassing differently. Squatters are typically a civil issue in court and take a lot longer to remove from homes compared to trespassers legally.
Under the law, squatters can claim the property as their own after a specified period of occupation. It’s different in every state, but this is a right that trespassers don’t have. Squatters can even claim the property as their own after a specified amount of time outlined in state laws.
What Are the Squatters Rights in Minnesota
A squatter is different from a trespasser because, technically, a trespasser is a criminal, while a squatter is considered an unauthorized tenant under Minnesota law. Since squatters are classified as unauthorized tenants, they have many of the same rights as lawful tenants, which can frustrate homeowners looking to remove them.
Minnesota law states that you cannot kick out or evict a squatter from your property without giving them proper legal notice. If you’re planning on evicting a squatter from your property, you’ll want to ensure you do it promptly before they attempt to claim ownership of your property as theirs.
Adverse Possession Laws
Adverse possession laws are among the most important to know regarding squatters’ rights in Minnesota. The United States established these laws thanks to the Homestead Act of 1862. Essentially, after a specified period, a squatter can claim ownership of the property they’re unauthorized to live in.
When squatters apply for an adverse possession claim, they might become the legal property owner of the real estate. In Minnesota, squatters must have a continuous home occupation for at least 15 years before they can file for ownership. The occupation period lasts longer than California, at only five years, but shorter than Idaho, which is 20.
Upon reaching the 15-year mark and no longer in the statutory period, a squatter can file a possession claim with the courts. There are several requirements squatters will have to meet to claim property ownership.
Continuous and Unhindered Possession
The main condition to file for adverse possession laws in Minnesota is meeting the continuous and unhindered possession of the vacant property. In Minnesota, this is 15 years, and the squatter cannot reside anywhere else during that time.
Continuous possession of an abandoned property means they cannot leave the property for weeks or months without the time resetting on the 15 years.
Throughout the entire unhindered possession time frame, the squatter cannot have anyone else living with them, not even temporarily. While some might try to get away with this, and it can be challenging to prove, you’ll want to be watchful if you have a squatter trying to have a roommate, partner, child, or someone else living with them on your property.
Actual Possession of Property
If your squatter is trying to claim your property as their own, they need to act like they own the property. With that in mind, they cannot let the real estate crumble or look degraded. Instead, squatters must take care of the property as the owner would and perform essential maintenance.
Maintaining the property includes keeping up with lawn care, paint jobs, etc. Even if they meet all other requirements for adverse possession claims, the court might deny them ownership if the property is not in a reasonable condition.
Another critical component of a squatter to file for adverse possession of a property is paying property taxes. Many refuse to pay anything, but if they want to file for legal ownership, they need to pay property taxes in Minnesota. In Minnesota, they only have to pay for five years within the 15 years, but the more they pay, the better their claim.
Last but not least, there are hostile claims. While the name suggests an aggressive or violent action, it’s not. Hostile claims refer to circumstances that have led to a squatter unlawfully occupying a home or property. Some hostile claim circumstances include:
- Awareness of Trespassing: When a squatter or trespasser occupies a property because they don’t know the lawful owner and believe they’re not doing any harm.
- Good Faith Mistake: A good faith mistake is when a squatter relies on an invalid deed to the home when they occupy it or genuinely believe they are the rightful owners.
- Simple Occupation: This happens when a squatter is living at the property and then continues to stay there without paying or knowing who the home’s legal owner is.
Can You Sell Your House if You Have A Squatter
When you put your home up for sale, squatters might take advantage of the fact no one is currently living in it and take it over. While understanding squatter rights is the first step to addressing their presence, it creates a challenging situation for a seller. How hard is it to sell a house with squatters? Impossible.
Indeed, you cannot formally sell your home in Minnesota while a squatter is present. You’ll need to go through the process of removing the squatter to move forward with selling your home. The eviction process to remove individuals from your property can take weeks, months, and sometimes years to resolve, which can be incredibly disruptive to your plans.
Most people have to go to court to get the squatter out of their property. If the squatter states that they signed a lease and “legally” live on the property, it can be even more time-consuming to prove that they didn’t sign a legally binding lease agreement or rental agreement. Since you can’t sell your home with a squatter present, you’ll need to know how to remove them.
How To Get a Squatter to Leave
If you find yourself dealing with a squatter in your Minnesota property, you can remove them. The first thing you’ll want to do when you realize you have a squatter in your rental property is get in touch with law enforcement to make an official report. This way, they’re aware of the situation, and there’s documentation to assist you when you proceed with eviction.
Once you file the appropriate paperwork, your illegal tenants will face an eviction notice. Now, they have two options. They can vacate the premises or pay you the rent they owe you. If you’re lucky, the squatter will comply with one of the two options, but this only sometimes happens.
Similar to other states, you cannot evict a squatter in Minnesota without providing legal notice. You’ll need to file a written notice of eviction and serve it to the squatters, but there are instances where the courts will deem the squatter situation as a civil suit. In this case, you’ll need to file for unlawful detainer and serve that to your illegal tenants.
An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a lengthier process but necessary when squatters won’t leave your property with an eviction notice. You’ll need to take the individual to court to prove that you’re the property’s legal owner.
You’ll want to hire a lawyer and take the time to gather all the necessary documents to prove that you’re the owner of the property where the squatter is staying. No matter which path removing them goes down, the courts will determine if you’re the legal owner and remove the squatters, but it can take some time.
Squatters are an inconvenience for landlords and home sellers in Minnesota. While it appears they are doing illegal things, they have rights. Knowing squatters’ rights in Minnesota is critical to understanding how to remove them from your property when dealing with the Minneapolis housing market. When dealing with squatters, you need to take legal action.
Be sure to call the police, file an eviction notice, and gather all your documents in preparation for taking them to court to prove you’re the true owner. If you’re trying to sell a house fast in Plymouth or Minneapolis, we can help because we buy houses in Minneapolis. Many cash home buyers in Minnesota are on the prowl for new properties, and once you remove any squatters, we’re ready to help you start a new chapter.