If you have a vacant property, you should inspect it for the presence of squatters. Squatters can occupy a property even when it stays empty for the next renter. You should get the rental property ready as soon as possible, make necessary repairs, and find a tenant immediately to prevent squatters.
In this article, we’ll guide you step-by-step on how to prevent squatters in your rental property.
What is a Squatter?
A squatter is someone who doesn’t own legal title to the property but takes residence there. A squatter may be a tenant who has lost their rental or lease agreement or someone who is not on title to the property and has no permission from the owner to live there.
If you are having problems with trespassers, you need to determine what type of trespasser they are: A squatter or a trespasser. In Oklahoma, different laws apply depending on what type of person they are.
The laws concerning eviction for squatters are quite straightforward in Oklahoma. This article will provide the necessary information about the laws when it comes to squatters rights and how you can prevent and get rid of squatters in Oklahoma.
Is Squatting the Same Thing as Trespassing?
At a glance, squatting or trespassing are similar things. The second instance occurs when the person is illegally in your house. There are legal differences between squatters and trespassers and ways of getting their removal done. Trespass on property is generally an offense investigated by any police department within the city. A trespasser can enter your home and steal things from your home and vandalize it. Then the person who trespasses will end up in legal trouble for being a squatter, but he or she will occupy your house, and it will be impossible for trespassers to do so.
Is a Holdover Tenant Considered a Squatter?
The answer is NO. A holdover tenant is not considered a squatter. Squatter occupies property or land without the owner’s consent. But the holdover tenant refuses to move out from the rental property even after the lease has expired. Once the lease expires, the holdover tenant is no more legally entitled to property occupancy. He/she is still considered a tenant, and the landlord must undergo an eviction process to remove them.
What Rights Do Squatters Have?
Squatters have occupied your rental premises without consent, but they still have the right to gain legal ownership of your property under various conditions. Laws regarding squatters’ rights can vary by jurisdiction, but it’s important to understand that squatters can legally own your property if the circumstances favor squatters over landlords. Let’s explore squatters’ rights and the legal considerations surrounding their occupation.
Adverse Possession Laws:
Under Oklahoma law, squatters possess legal property ownership if they have occupied it for 15 years without the owner’s permission. This is known as adverse possession. The landlord must know this law and take measures to prevent squatters from occupying their properties for extended periods.
Squatters can argue that a property has been abandoned, allowing them to occupy it. In some states, if the landlords fail to maintain or visit the vacant property for long, the property can be considered abandoned. Squatters may try to leverage this argument to establish occupancy rights.
In some cases, squatters who have lived on a property for an extended period may be granted tenant-like rights. This means they could have the right to formal eviction proceedings rather than immediate removal. Eviction processes generally involve court orders and notice periods, giving squatters more time to find alternative housing.
Property Maintenance and Improvements:
Squatters who occupy a property might argue that they contribute to its maintenance and improvements. They may claim they have added value to the property by repairing it or enhancing its condition. Some jurisdictions consider these contributions as a factor in determining legal rights. So, the landlords are responsible for protecting their rental homes.
Rights granted to squatters can significantly depend on local laws and regulations. Considering the shortage of affordable housing options, jurisdictions with high housing demands might be more lenient toward squatters.
Squatters’ rights often raise moral and ethical dilemmas. Some argue that homeless individuals should be allowed to occupy vacant properties, while others emphasize respecting private property rights.
All these rights are not absolute and can be subject to legal challenges. It’s crucial to consult with legal professionals familiar with local laws if you are dealing with squatters on your property or are interested in understanding squatters’ rights more comprehensively.
How Squatters Can Gain Access to Your Property?
There are numerous ways squatters can gain access to your property. Here are some of them:
- If you have any real estate property or building that has been vacant or abandoned for a long time then the squatters get attracted to them. The squatters will move in without the owner’s permission.
- Squatters might take advantage of unsecured property by breaking locks or windows to gain entry.
- Squatting might occur when an illegal roommate or subtenant who hasn’t been mentioned in the lease agreement and refusing to move out even after the lease duration is expired.
- Some squatters can also gain access to a property by renting it from a fraudulent landlord or using fake lease agreements.
- Some squatters might also falsify documents by creating fake lease agreements or other legal documents.
- Some squatters can also claim adverse possession of a property if they have lived there for a certain number of years even without the owner’s permission.
The laws and regulations surrounding squatters vary from state to state. So, before taking action against the squatters, you must seek legal advice.
How to Prevent Squatters: Basic Approach Landlords Can Apply
Landlords are allowed to use basic measures to prevent squatters from their investment property. You can place signs at the front of your house, that state you aren’t interested in a rental agreement.
If you own a vacant building, you could put up signs around it stating that the building is under construction but will soon be available for rent. This would discourage potential squatters from moving in because they know there is no vacancy on offer.
Ask your neighboring property owner to be careful and inform if any kind of suspicious activity is happening on your property.
You can also take measures to make it difficult for them to get in by installing fences or closing doors and windows. Simply, you’ll have to somehow get into the property and change the locks.
You can’t use violent entry if the squatters are already inside the house. This is against the law. In such a case, call the police and a friendly lawyer to stop you. If things go wrong, file for eviction to get rid of squatters.
Here are some tips to protect your property from squatters in Oklahoma:
- Do not keep your property vacant.
- Inspect your property regularly.
- Pay your property taxes on time.
- Keep copies of important documents safe.
- Create a rental agreement with squatters.
Do Not Keep Your Property Vacant
Here is another option for “how to avoid squatters”. If you own a real estate property, rent it out. Keeping a rental property vacant encourage squatters to trespass. Find eligible tenants who can take care of your property and pays rent on time.
OKC Home Realty Services can assist you with a better tenant screening process. They make sure to eliminate poor-quality tenants, which not only keeps away the squatters but also, increases occupancy and profitability.
Recommended: How to Minimize Rental Property Vacancy Rate?
Post “No Trespassing” Signs
Posting no trespassing signs is also one of the effective measures to prevent squatters. By displaying these signs, it will deter people from even trying to enter the property. It clearly states that your property is private and unauthorized access is strictly prohibited. This message also symbolizes the legal action of potential squatters if it is taken as a joke.
Remember to maintain the visibility and integrity of the signs over a period of time, ensuring they remain an effective deterrent against unauthorized occupation.
Change your locks after move-out
It is a simple and effective way to prevent squatters from entering your property. Property owners or managers mostly underestimate it. If all entry points are secured, and in good working condition, it decreases the chances of squatters on your property. It’s a small investment of time and money to prevent you from squatter’s rights with peace of mind.
Inspect Your Property Regularly
Regular inspection of the property includes checking on door locks, windows, and gates. Stay aware of trespassing. To make it better, you can use a security alarm system. It is combined with a security camera and connects to your phone, so when something strange is happening inside your vacant property, it will send an alarm to your phone and make sure you see what’s going on inside the house live on camera.
Having home inspections regularly can help you strengthen your case if you need to file an eviction. A quality home inspection is done under the supervision of a home inspector. They look after the damage and let you know if the house is in good condition.
Recommended Article: Types of Inspections Every Rental Landlord Should Consider
Invest in a home security system
A home security system is most important to prevent squatters from your rental property. Investment in a reliable home security system allows you to view and protect your property at all times, enhancing your property’s protection and helping deter squatters. It provides you with peace of mind without the worries of unauthorized occupants.
On the other hand, a robust home security system discourages potential squatters from targeting your property. These systems include surveillance cameras, motion sensors, and alarms, which help detect and alert your local law enforcement to suspicious activity. Squatter does attempt to occupy such property that can notify you and authorities promptly, allowing for a quick response. It is a proactive step towards preventing squatters and safeguarding your property investment.
Pay Your Property Taxes on Time
One of the best ways to avoid squatters from occupying your vacant property is by paying property taxes in a proper manner. Squatters won’t be able to claim legal ownership/possession of your property if you are paying your tax regularly. Check on your property regularly. Check on your property regularly.
Mostly squatters trespass on your property when you aren’t aware of your vacant property. The other thing is insuring your rental properties. Any type of damage on your property can be covered by renters insurance. It is the most affordable type of insurance.
Here is a full guide on Why should you get Renters Insurance in Oklahoma.
Keep Copies of Important Documents Safe
Keeping your important documents safe is another way to deal with squatters. When you need to file a report to evict a squatter, they always ask for the property deeds. This is when your key documents are beneficial.
Relevant property documents are precisely what squatters look for when entering a new place to stay. So, you need to be careful. Often, having a scanned copy of your valuable documents on your phone or mailbox will save your day.
Create a Rental Agreement with Squatters
If you notice any squatters inside your property, then you can make a deal with squatters. You necessarily don’t have to call the police or proceed with an eviction action.
Alternatively, you can present the squatters with a rental agreement. Simply, homeowners and squatters can mutually agree on the terms of the rental agreement. This can encourage squatters to obtain the right to stay in the rental property and pay rent timely. That way you can earn some rental income. Get to know if squatters have the right to stay in a rental property and pay rent.
Why Is It Important to Deal With Squatters Right Away?
Prevention is critical before the deterioration of your property from squatters. If you don’t take action immediately and allow settlers to settle on your property, it can bring a big disaster to you. It serves as an opportunity to wear and tear your property. You have to deal with such matters quickly to speed up the legal processes and remove squatters as soon as possible.
The possible results you have to face if squatters are not removed immediately.
Squatters occupy a property without legal title, ownership, or permission. Allowing them to remain on the property can complicate the legal situation and make it harder to reclaim ownership. Taking prompt action ensures that legal procedures can be initiated quickly, protecting the property owner’s rights.
Squatters can cause significant damage to your property. They may continue to damage your property if they are not removed immediately. It can lead to massive, costly repairs. They can also raise a security risk to your property by bringing unwanted guests, such as drug dealers and criminals, complicating selling or renting your property. Buyers and potential tenants will almost hesitate to move into a property squatted in.
Squatters can negatively affect the surrounding neighborhood. Their presence may lead to decreased property values, increased crime rates, and a general decline in the quality of life for residents. Dealing with squatters promptly helps protect the well-being and livability of the neighborhood.
If you’re unsure how to deal with the eviction process, you can contact your local property management team for assistance.
What If Your Tenant Let The Squatters In?
Well, it is more complicated when your tenant lets squatters in. If the tenant didn’t mention that s/he is leaving the rental property but you’re sure about it – and at the same time, you suspect someone else inside your property – this can be serious.
In such cases, use safety measures to get possession routes through the court. In simple words, proceed as if your tenant was still in possession. The reason behind doing this is if you use basic measures then the tenant will come back. This will prove you wrong.
If you don’t file for possession and the tenants come back, you have to let him stay even if the monthly rent is due. So filling for possession will be the best option.
Guide To Squatters Rights In Oklahoma State
Oklahoma doesn’t have different laws mentioned in the Landlord-Tenant Act for the eviction of squatters. If the squatters protest to leave the property through basic methods, the owner must file a legal eviction to get rid of the squatters.
You might wonder, What to do after evicting a tenant?
However, there is a provision in Oklahoma law for property owners with a legal disability i.e. they are underage, imprisoned, or legally incompetent. They have two years after their disability is lifted to claim their properties that are occupied by the squatters.
This means, that while a landlord is legally disabled, no adverse possession claim can be issued against unauthorized tenants. Get to know more about Squatters Rights Oklahoma.
How to Get Rid of Squatters in Oklahoma?
It is important to keep in mind that you should not try to remove squatters forcibly. It can lead to legal problems. You could face criminal charges for trespassing or unlawful eviction. You should follow the proper legal process to remove the squatters from the property. Here are some steps you can try to get squatters out of your house:
- Call the local police and file a report against the squatters.
- Send out a formal eviction notice after filing the police report.
- If the squatter refuses to leave the property, then you can file a lawsuit.
- Remove the possessions left by the squatters. Keep in mind that you can’t just throw away their possessions.
How OKC Home Realty Services Can Help Prevent Squatting?
If you are a property owner and want to file the eviction yourself, it can be tough. Think twice. The legal adviser at court will be assisting the tenant – looking for any technicality to get your case thrown off the court. With the right team of professionals on your side, it is simple than you think. For more information on preventing squatters from occupying your property, contact OKC Home Realty Services, a property management company today!
Property Management OKC used to perform eviction processes on behalf of the clients. That has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. In such a case, we can give you a rundown of the process that our team and the attorney go through when filing an eviction to remove squatters.
Give us a call at 14052325800. Let us guide you with the Eviction Process and other Real Estate and Property Management queries.
FAQs on Preventing Squatters in a Property
How do you stop squatters?
Tips for Protecting Yourself from Squatters in Oklahoma;
Secure all entrances.
Post “No Trespassing” signs, especially if your real estate property is vacant.
If you are sure about squatters already living in your rental unit, file a formal eviction notice as soon as possible.
Hire professional legal services.
Can you lock squatters out?
Squatters can be evicted, but lawfully. If you are left with a situation where evicting squatters is your only option, find a legal professional in your area to find out what rights they have and what rules you need to follow.
Why is it hard to get rid of squatters?
Actually, evicting a squatter is as difficult as evicting a traditional tenant. Many squatters try to gain tenant rights. This creates more difficulties in the eviction process. It can also lengthen the already long eviction process.
How to keep squatters out?
Once you get a clue that there’s a squatter living on your property, it’s essential to consult with state and local laws. Removing squatters by force is dangerous and may result in criminal charges against you. For that, you should avoid: Locking them out by installing additional locks or changing the locks. You need to file a report first and then the local police will guide you.
How to Prevent Squatters in Rental Property?
Property owners are allowed to use basic measures to get their properties back. You can place signs at the front of your house, that state that you are not interested in renting it out. Ask your neighboring property owner to be careful and inform if any kind of suspicious activity is happening.
Can Police remove squatters?
While the police can easily remove trespassers due to the illegal nature of trespassing, the situation is different when dealing with squatters. For removing squatters, one must go to civil court as the police cannot remove them without following the proper legal procedures.
What are some creative ways to get rid of squatters?
Here are some creative ways you can follow to get rid of squatters from your property:
1. Initiate open communication.
2. Document the situation.
3. Contact local authorities.
4. Offer assistance if appropriate.
5. Consult with a property law attorney.
6. Secure the property.
Is property maintenance important for preventing squatting?
Definitely! It is most important to prevent squatters. Well-maintained properties are less attractive to squatters, as they mostly prefer neglected spaces.