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Sell my house for cash with squatters in Texas

What Is A Squatter? A Comprehensive Guide To Squatters Rights Texas 2024 [Photos]

squatters rights in texas
Understand Texas Squatter Rights

*Update 6-14-2024

In our continuing series called The Tired Landlord, next up we tackle the clash between squatters and homeowners and how it presents a complex Texas-sized legal term headache. First, let’s define what is a squatter? A squatter is a person who is occupying someone else’s uninhabited property to make an adverse possession claim.

These uninvited occupants have no legal ownership or title to the home, however, they can acquire this at some point. Squatters, who occupy vacant property without the property owner’s permission or a recorded deed, and homeowners, seeking to protect their property rights, must navigate a maze of legalities for the eviction process in Texas.

Our team has a deep history of handling the eviction process and adverse possession claim of possible squatter suspicious activity in the Dallas Fort Worth area and throughout Texas. From being on the ground with the sheriff or constable who is serving a writ of possession during the day of the eviction notice with loads and loads of trash to be hauled off to bringing the house back to housing market ready standards is no easy task.

This comprehensive guide aims to share our experience and knowledge, and most importantly demystify the intricacies of the concept of squatters rights Texas, offering guidance and a plan of attack to prevent squatters.

squatters rights texas 2024
Is it illegal to be a squatter?

Does Texas Have Squatters Rights?

Squatters in Texas, bless their misplaced optimism, can actually claim ownership after living in a Texas house for a spell – five consecutive years, to be precise. Now, this ain’t a simple “camp out and claim it” game of monopoly. They have to have paid property taxes, live openly like a sunbaked lizard, and make home improvements and repairs to the house.

Unfortunately, if they check all the boxes, a loss property investment to someone who snuck in through a broken window with a rusty crowbar. Talk about adding insult to injury, right? This occurs through a legal concept known as “adverse possession,” which allows squatters to claim legal possession after living in the house or on the property continuously for a specific period of time.

However, this potential change in ownership doesn’t strip the original actual owner of the right to seek financial cash compensation for lost rent payments or other related expenses. Additionally, in cases of foreclosure, squatters may remain in the residence until formally evicted by the new owner or by court order. Although squatting is illegal and can result in criminal charges, due process must be followed to remove squatters, ensuring fairness for all parties involved.

squatters rights 30 days texas
Why do squatters rights exist?

What Is The Difference Between Squatters And Trespassers in Texas?

Over the years, distinguishing squatters from trespassers has become second nature to our team at Bright Bid Homes, a critical skill as realtors and Texas property managers. A squatter, often misunderstood, isn’t just an unwanted guest; they might be a resident without current legal standing but with potential Texas squatters rights in the making. Squatters settle in, not just for shelter but with an eye towards a possible future property claim. A trespasser, on the other hand, is more straightforward in their intent – they enter without plans to stay or claim, often leaving as quickly as they entered.

squatters rights in texas 2024
What is an adverse possession claim?
are there squatters rights in texas
Is squatting legal in Texas?

Texas Squatters Rights 2024

In our journey through the maze of Texas laws, the term ‘adverse possession’ has come up more times than I can count. It’s not just about someone occupying neglected properties but doing so with a boldness that’s hard to ignore. A squatter must be conspicuous, in continuous exclusive possession, and show a clear intent to own the house by fulfilling responsibilities like property tax payments. This law isn’t just text in legal books; it’s a reality that we’ve seen unfold, sometimes culminating in courtrooms with affidavits flying where the line between property ownership and resident occupancy gets blurred and redrawn. The key to navigating this complex terrain is a thorough understanding of the nuances, something that we’ve honed through years of hands-on experience in the Texas housing market.

Understanding the distinction between the landlord tenant relationship and a squatter trespasser relationship is crucial for Texas homeowners. Squatters occupy a house or land without legal rights, claim or permission, potentially living there for an extended period. In contrast, a trespasser enters or uses someone else’s house without permission but does not usually reside or make changes to the home.

Secure Texas Against Squatters: Property Owner Rights

Texas legislators began work on an anti-squatting bill to be brought up in the Texas Senate during the 2025 regular session. The discussion called “Secure Texas Against Squatters was added by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for Texas legislators to review the state’s adverse possession statues. Unfortunately in Texas currently, whether you live in San Antonio or Fort Worth, the state law treats squatters the same. The squatting laws in Texas state these squatters are unwanted holdover tenants and not as trespassers. No action from Texas legislators on squatters rights or more specifically any anti-squatting laws or movement will take place until the next regular session of the Texas legislature in 2025 unless a special session in enacted.

squatters rights in texas
State legislators to review Texas squatter law in 2025

Can You Go To Jail For Squatting In Texas?

If an individual has been residing at a house for over 30 days without the owner’s consent, they are likely a squatter. Trespassing, involving activities like vandalism or theft, can lead to criminal charges. Recognizing these differences helps homeowners protect their rights effectively.

Legal Ownership: Requirements for Adverse Possession Claim

Adverse possession in Texas requires the squatter to openly and notoriously occupy the property exclusively in continuous possession for at least 10 years, intending to possess it as their own. They must also demonstrate that they have been paying property taxes during this period. Homeowners can challenge adverse exclusive possession claims in court, but success hinges on understanding these legal nuances.

squatters rights 30 days texas
Squatters Rights 30 days in Texas

Understanding Color Of Title For Squatters Rights In Texas

There’s the “color of title” twist. Imagine your grandpa’s handwritten promise passed down like a tattered family heirloom, granting some unknown person aka squatter a shaky claim to a property. Even if it ain’t worth the paper it’s written on, that paper can still cause a big headache in court, stretching out the eviction process. So, be sure to keep every receipt, every lease agreement, even grandma’s grocery list if need be, to prove this house is yours and yours alone. The “color of title” plays a pivotal role in property disputes.

Squatters and Property Taxes

Even better, squatters rights in Texas include the non-obligation to pay property taxes until they obtain legal ownership of the property. For a squatter to gain ownership and rights, they must have occupied the house for at least three months and demonstrate tax payments to local authorities. Homeowners must be vigilant about these squatter’s rights and actual possession laws to prevent loss of property rights.

texas squatter law
Damage From Squatters In Texas

How To Prevent Squatters in Texas

Homeowners and landlords can adopt several strategies to prevent squatters and an adverse possession claim in rental properties. Ensuring that all doors and windows are securely locked and regularly inspect the property is basic and fundamental to property managers everywhere. Regular house inspections, installing security cameras, and informing tenants about squatters’ rights are effective measures. Maintaining a log of visitors helps in monitoring and preventing unauthorized squatting occupancy.

For example, in Atlanta Georgia, the problem of squatters has become the largest in the country with an estimated 1,200 homes being illegally occupied in the Atlanta metro area, according to a recent Bloomberg article. If it can happen in Atlanta, property owners need to take steps to make sure it does not make it to Austin or Houston Texas.

Bloomberg article continues,

Although precise figures on squatter-plagued homes are hard to find, the number may have quadrupled since the pandemic’s start, said Beth Cruikshank, a real estate attorney. At one point last year, her firm had filed “intruder affidavits” — documents that can help remove illegal occupants — against squatters in more than 700 area rentals.

Squatters rights in Texas
Linda Giang in Houston, Texas had squatters in her home

Another unfortunate example from Linda Giang in Houston Texas who had to battle with squatters who changed the locks. Giang decried the situation,

They broke into my house. They’re trespassing. That should be a criminal trespass. They’re violating my privacy. This is my property.

Can You Kick Out A Squatter In Texas?

The eviction process in Texas ain’t a quick two-step dance. It’s a tango with lawyers, compliance and an adverse possession claim, and court dates that feel like an eternity. Even if you get the legal green light to give the eviction notice, a property owner cannot just forcibly remove a squatter living on the property. The property owner must wait another three days for the squatter to vacate. Its all apart of the eviction process dance.

If squatters don’t vacate? It’s a tense waiting game of Texas squatters rights, hoping nobody gets hurt and your house doesn’t end up looking like a local trash dump.

texas squatter rights
Need Squatter Hunter Flash Shelton?

Evicting A Squatter In Texas

Evicting and removing squatters in Texas involves legal procedures, starting with filing an eviction notice called a notice to vacate. The squatter has rights and must be served this eviction notice to vacate either personally or via certified mail, providing them three days to vacate. Failure to comply with these actual possession laws can lead to longer timelines to remove squatters.

The Texas governor has weighed in on the issue of Texas squatters rights stating on X, formerly known as Twitter, the his opinion on squatters rights in Texas,

In Texas, anyone squatting in your home is breaking the law. They are criminals violating TX laws like criminal trespass & criminal mischief (Tex. Penal Code 30.05 & 28.03). Also, the Texas Castle Doctrine empowers Texans to use force to defend themselves & their property.

From Governor Abbott’s X account

Texas Governor Abbott refers to the Texas legal statues in Chapter 28 and he emphasized also the Texas Castle Doctrine that states anybody squatting on your property is breaking the law.

Additionally, the state of Florida is enacting new squatters rights legislation that goes into effect July 1, 2024 against residential squatting rights signed by Governor Ron DeSantis nicknamed the Desantis Rent Law. The Florida governor stated,

If you’re the victim of squatting, you can simply fill out a form, give it to your local sheriff and the sheriff is instructed to go and remove the people who are inhabiting your dwelling illegally. And that will happen very quickly. We are putting an end to the squatters scam in Florida. While other states are siding with the squatters, we are protecting property owners and punishing criminals looking to game the system.

Florida House Bill 621 “Property Rights”
squatters rights texas 2024
Squatting or trespassing?

Squatters Rights Texas: Tenants vs Trespassing

When a tenant remains at a house post-lease expiration without permission, they may transition from a holdover tenant to a vacant property trespasser. Landlords must issue written notice for termination of a lease agreement, regularly inspect and allow a reasonable notice to vacate period of time. If the tenant stays on the property beyond this period, they are legally trespassers, and the landlord tenant actions against them are justified under Texas state and property squatting law.

squatters rights in dallas
Who is the guy who kicks out squatters?

Squatters Rights 30 Days

Texas squatting laws vary to remove squatters’ in different scenarios. The period squatters in Texas must occupy a house to claim adverse possession is typically five years, provided they demonstrate open, continuous occupation and property improvements. Homeowners should be aware that squatting can also occur in rented units without the landlord’s permission.

In most parts of the country like in California, a squatter living on your property for more than 30 days with permission can claim squatters rights, as state law views are different state to state. Some states view occupants over 30 days as becoming tenant. In other words, squatters rights 30 days after “moving in” to a property, it can become a real and legal problem.

squatters rights in texas 2024
Property damage caused by squatters rights in Texas 2023

Are Squatters Legal In Texas?

For landlords dealing with unlawful house occupancy, several legal remedies and rights are available. These include eviction lawsuits and seeking assistance from a law enforcement officer. Familiarity with state adverse possession claims that offer additional protection against unlawful home occupations aka squatting is vital for property owners.

The Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M had a useful concise overview on what Texans need to know about squatter’s rights including more specific guidelines from Texas Property Code 16.024-16.026.

Texas Squatters Law

Without legal property possession in Texas, severe penal penalties are possible when a squatter tries to occupy a home claiming Texas squatters rights when it is somebody else’s property. This includes criminal charges like Class A misdemeanors, punishable by jail time and fines. Homeowners can also pursue civil actions for property damages and eviction process costs. It’s crucial for those accused of illegal adverse possession laws to seek legal assistance promptly.

Squatter man
Squatting Man

Adverse Possession Claim In Texas Squatters Rights

Texas squatting laws are different from every other state. What is true in Texas might not be the same in Oklahoma or Pennsylvania. We do not claim to be real estate attorneys or legal scholars on the subject of Texas squatters rights and enforce evictions, but it is definitely not our first rodeo. So we want to do our best to share our squatting stories and inform the readers of this squatter’s rights guide to help and assist in their eviction process. Understanding homeowner and squatter’s rights in Texas is essential for navigating this complex legal squatting morass. We strongly recommend to get specialized legal counsel that specialize in fighting supposed squatters rights when the first signs of a possible squatting scenario arises.

For homeowners and landlords, the realization that squatters can potentially claim rights to their house or investment property and not pay rent can be alarming, underscoring the need for vigilance and legal preparedness. Professional legal advice is often the best course of action in these scenarios. For those seeking alternative solutions, companies like Bright Bid Homes offer avenues to circumvent the stress associated with squatters’ rights through the cash sale of the house. In the end, knowledge and proactive measures are key to effectively managing property rights in Texas.

Squatter Hunter Flash Shelton

The frustration of landlords and property owners has spilled over to the rise of an anti-squatting uproar led by new state laws up for vote and even a squatter hunter movement led by Flash Shelton in California. His popular YouTube channel “Outside the Box” about being a squatter hunter has gain prominence as property owners look for any way possible to regain possession of squatter held property. Here in this YouTube clip titled “How I removed squatters in less than a day.

How I removed squatters in less than a day.
Can squatter hunter Flash Shelton help with evicting a squatter in Texas?

Final Word on Texas Squatters Rights

If you find yourself entangled in the complexities of Texas squatters rights or similar property issues, remember that you have viable options to resolve these property challenges efficiently. Selling your house for cash to Bright Bid Homes presents a streamlined, stress-free solution. By submitting your property information to us, you’ll receive a free, no-obligation offer, allowing you to gauge the best course of action at your property without any pressure. Let us be your squatter hunter.

Selling your house or investment property should not be a one-size-fits-all process. At Bright Bid Homes, we understand that each situation is unique, and we’re committed to discussing your specific circumstances to find the most suitable path forward. Reach out to our team today, and let us help you navigate these squatters rights waters with courage and strength, turning a potentially difficult squatting situation into a bright opportunity for a fresh start!

Disclaimer: We are not attorneys. The information provided in this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to make an adverse possession claim. Property owners should consult a licensed attorney for specific squatting laws and guidance on Texas and Florida squatters law in property code and all matters related to their individual situation.

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