12 U.S. States Where Squatters Can Legally Claim Your Property

Adverse possession laws in the United States allow squatters to claim property ownership under specific conditions. These laws vary from state to state, with some states having stricter regulations than others. As a property owner, you must understand these laws to protect your rights.

We have listed the top states in the United States where squatters have a great advantage of legally claiming properties in 10 years or less. We have primarily followed the data published by the American Apartment Owners Association to formulate this list. If you want to avoid potential disputes over your property, take a look at our findings.


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In California, squatters can claim property through adverse possession if they openly occupy it for at least five years. During this possession time, they must pay property taxes. They also need to meet other legal requirements, including filing a claim to gain legal ownership.

If the original owner wants to evict the squatter, they must take legal action within the five-year period. Otherwise, the existing squatters law will allow the loss of original ownership rights.


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In Montana, squatters can legally claim property ownership through adverse possession. This process requires five years of continuous, open, exclusive occupation by the squatters. This occupation must be hostile and without the owner’s permission.

Squatters must also fulfill property tax obligations and meet legal requirements during this time. Property owners must be vigilant in monitoring their land to prevent adverse possession and promptly take legal action against unauthorized occupation.


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In Arkansas, squatters can claim property through adverse possession by openly and continuously occupying it for seven years. This occupation must be hostile, without the owner’s permission and squatters are obligated to pay property taxes during this time.

Additionally, they must maintain and exclusively handle the property. Seeking guidance from a knowledgeable real estate attorney is crucial for those considering adverse possession claims, while landowners must act swiftly to prevent such occurrences.


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In Florida, adverse possession laws stipulate that squatters must openly and continuously occupy a property for at least seven years. This occupation must be exclusive and without permission from the property owner.

To claim adverse possession, squatters in Florida must meet specific requirements. These include paying all overdue taxes and special improvement liens, submitting property details to the county property appraiser, and keeping up with tax payments for the required duration. Squatters must adhere to legal procedures outlined by the Department of Revenue when making a return of the property to the property appraiser.


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In Tennessee, individuals can gain ownership of property through adverse possession by openly and continuously occupying it for seven years. This occupation must be hostile and without the owner’s permission. Squatters must also fulfill property tax obligations and obtain ‘color of title’ during this period. Property owners should keep watch over their land and take legal measures if they suspect unauthorized occupation to thwart adverse possession claims.


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Utah has a seven-year adverse possession law in place that allows squatters to claim ownership of property. To successfully assert adverse possession, squatters must demonstrate continuous and exclusive possession of the land, without the owner’s consent, for the statutory period. They must be  paying property taxes and meeting other specified criteria to obtain legal ownership in future. This legal principle aims to encourage the productive use of land while preventing it from remaining unused or neglected.

New York

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To claim adverse possession in New York, squatters must adhere to specific requirements outlined in NY RPA Code § 511. This includes occupying the property continuously for at least ten years and having color of title, which signifies irregular ownership due to lacking official property documents like a deed. Furthermore, squatters need to show that they occupied the property without owner’s permission, actually lived there, openly used it without hiding, had exclusive control over it, and continuously possessed it for the required duration. These criteria ensure that squatters fulfill legal conditions before making a claim for adverse possession in New York.

New Mexico

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In New Mexico, adverse possession allows individuals to claim ownership of property that is not their own. The squatters have to openly, continuously, and notoriously occupy the property for at least ten years. After the hostile takeover, squatters must pay property taxes and maintain the property during this time. If these conditions are met, squatters can proceed for legal ownership of the property by filing a lawsuit. This lawsuit is subject to the original owner’s opportunity to contest the claim.


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In Washington state, squatters must adhere to specific laws governing adverse possession, dictating when and how they can make a claim. To establish adverse possession successfully, squatters need to occupy the property continuously for ten years or for seven years while also having color of title and paying property taxes. Additionally, squatters must fulfill five general requirements for adverse possession, including hostile possession, actual possession, open and notorious possession, exclusive possession, and continuous possession.

South Carolina

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South Carolina’s squatter’s law, like many states, recognizes adverse possession. Squatters can potentially gain legal ownership of abandoned or unused property by occupying it openly and continuously. The minimum time period of this illegal occupation is ten years. To claim adverse possession, individuals must fulfill certain legal criteria. Maintaining continuous possession, paying property taxes, and demonstrating an intention to possess the land as their own are some of the basic requirements.


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Mississippi’s adverse possession law allows individuals to claim ownership of land by openly occupying it for at least ten years. If the illegal occupant regularly pays property taxes and fulfills other specific requirements, they can claim legal ownership eventually. Adverse possession grants legal rights to property if the squatter can prove continuous and exclusive possession, without the true owner’s permission, for the statutory period. This law aims to balance property rights while preventing land from lying idle, encouraging productive use and maintenance of neglected properties.

Other States with 10 Years Adverse Possession Law

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Apart from New York, New Mexico, Washington, Mississippi, and South Carolina, several other states in the United States allow adverse possession law with ten years of minimum possession. These states are Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, Rhode Island, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In any of these states, squatters can claim the property ownership meeting specific requirements. They have to occupy the property continuously and exclusively while paying regular taxes.

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