Squatter’s Rights: What You Need to Know

If you are a current or prospective owner of commercial real estate, a landlord, or investor in commercial real estate, then you owe it to yourself to get armed with knowledge in the woeful event you encounter the nefarious creature that has been terrorizing the land, known as “The Squatter”– not to be confused with Sasquatch! What are Southern California Squatter’s Rights?

The Portrait of a Squatter

According to Investopedia.com, “A squatter is a person who settles in or occupies property with no legal claim to the property. A squatter is one who resides on a property to which he or she has no title, right or lease.” Without a lease, they gain a legal right to stay on your property as a tenant if they merely occupy it continuously for 30 days.

Reason.com recently ran a story titled, A UC-Berkeley Professor Couldn’t Evict Her Tenant Because of California’s Insane Laws. In January of 2016, the Berkeley teacher took a sabbatical and rented her place to another professor (through a sort of Airbnb for academics). She returned six months later to broken furniture, vanished paintings, stripped floors, and a rent deficit of about $5,375. After a brutal duel of wills, the man left and agreed to start paying the bulk of what he owed later in the year. It could’ve been much worse.

The Portrait of a Nightmare: Squatter’s Rights

These beasts can lower property value by damaging it and hazard your very ownership by clawing at it with Squatter’s Rights, technically called Adverse Possession. Legaldictionary.net defines it thusly: “The occupation of land owned by another person with the intention of claiming it as one’s own.” In order for Adverse Possession to legally take effect, all states generally require the ownership of the property must be:

  1. actual
  2. open and notorious
  3. exclusive
  4. hostile
  5. under cover of claim or right
  6. continuous and uninterrupted for the statutory time period (details here)

In 2017, a California man complained in The LA Times that the locks were changed on the condo he inherited but left vacant. The invaders were “paying the homeowner association fees, attending board meetings and voting” and got the title in their name. This man may lose his condo because his vocabulary lacked this term.

If you want to maximally utilize your rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property, then it is crucial you know about the danger of the predatory Squatter and his seemingly wrong right to pursue your property.

The team here at Lee & Associates Orange would love to help you hunt down the commercial real estate you’re looking for. Contact us today!