A squatter is a person that occupies an area of land or building that has been unoccupied, foreclosed, or abandoned without any lawful permission. Aside from not being the lawful property owner, a squatter is also not under any obligation to pay rent or a security deposit.
In spite of this, squatting is completely legal and happens all over the country.
In this article written by MN Property Nerds, you’ll learn everything you need to know about squatters’ rights in Minnesota.
Not really. Squatting is civil in nature, while trespassing is criminal in nature.
Also, a trespasser typically doesn’t stay for very long on the property, while a squatter remains on the property indefinitely, often asserting ownership or tenancy.
A holdover tenant is someone that refuses to leave a rented property once their lease term is over. Fundamentally, they are different from squatters and the law applies to them differently.
In this situation, it’s up to you as the landlord to either continue accepting rent or not. If you choose to do so, then the tenant will continue to live under the same terms and conditions as before. However, they live on the property at the will of the landlord, meaning that you can evict them at any time without serving them any notice.
But if you choose not to receive further rent payments, then you must serve the tenant an unconditional quite notice. If the tenant doesn’t leave after the notice period, they then become criminal trespassers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Minnesota squatting laws.
Squatter’s rights are a form of Adverse Possession. If a squatter occupies a piece of land or building for a certain duration of time and meets the necessary guidelines as outlined by the state of Minnesota, then that property can legally become theirs.
It’s therefore vital that you understand what rights squatters have so that you can prevent it from happening. This is especially true considering that there are about 7,977 homeless people in Minnesota on any given day. And with the unemployment rate rising due to the current pandemic, that number can only be expected to climb much higher.
A squatter can only make an adverse possession claim after residing on your property for a certain duration of time. In the state of Minnesota, that period is fifteen years. As per Minn. Stat. Sec. 541.02, that period must be continuous and uninterrupted.
In addition, the squatter must have paid property taxes for a total of 5 consecutive years. Below are other requirements that a squatter must meet before qualifying for an adverse possession claim.
Here, “hostile” doesn’t allude to violence. In legal terminology, it can take 3 definitions:
One, “hostile” may mean the simple occupation of a building or a piece of land. The person squatting doesn’t necessarily have to know that the property belongs to someone else.
Two, it can mean that the squatter indeed knows that they are occupying someone else’s property.
And three, “hostile” can mean that the squatter isn’t aware that the document they are relying on is in fact incorrect or invalid.
Besides just occupying the property, the squatter must also treat the property like their own. This means, for example, by maintaining it or beautifying it.
The squatter cannot try to hide the fact that they are living there. Even the property owner themself should be able to tell that there is someone occupying the property, should they decide to investigate.
For an adverse possession claim to go through, besides meeting the aforementioned requirements, the squatter must have lived in the property continuously for at least 15 years.
The squatter must not share occupancy of the property with anyone else, for instance, other squatters, tenants or strangers.
Understandably, it is any Minnesota homeowner’s nightmare to have to deal with a squatter in their own property. Luckily, there are ways to prevent that from happening in the first place. The following are things you can do to prevent squatters in your Minnesota property:
Already have a squatter living on your premises? If so, here are a few things you can do.
At MN Property Nerds, we are well-versed in Minnesota tenancy laws. Our #1 priority is to assist property owners in keeping their property properly cared for and occupied by desirable tenants. Contact us today to learn more about our services.