How do you get rid of uninvited people on your property? How about guests that have overstayed their welcome? Do you call the sheriff or go to court? It depends on the situation.
What is a Squatter?
A squatter is someone who occupies a property or area of land without lawful permission and has the intention of living there as if they were the owner.
What is the Relationship Between a Squatter and Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession is the set of legal elements that give a squatter the right to gain legal title of a property. The terms adverse possession and squatter’s rights are often used interchangeably. It takes at least 7 years (if the squatter acts under color of title) or 20 years of exclusive, actual, open (visible), hostile (no permission) and continuous use by the squatter to satisfy the legal requirements to gain title by adverse possession. It is difficult at best.
What is the Difference Between a Squatter and a Trespasser?
A trespasser is someone that knowingly enters someone’s house, building or land without permission or authorization, but without the intention of claiming the property as their own. Trespassing is a criminal offense. Call the Sheriff.
On the other hand, a squatter is claiming ownership. To get rid of a squatter, the owner must go through the civil court system (rather than the criminal system). File a lawsuit. The Sheriff can’t help.
What About a Guest that has Overstayed Their Welcome?
First, this includes an adult child, an adult family member or any other guest that may have originally been a guest. A true house guest is easy to get out. Call the sheriff.
However, the “guest” may have acquired the status of a tenant at will. It doesn’t take much. Under Georgia law, a person doesn't need to pay rent or sign a rental agreement to be considered a tenant. All a guest has to do is perform some payment or service in return for the lodging. It can be cooking, cleaning, babysitting or even offering other services. If the guest has performed, the owner has to follow the rules of Landlord Tenant law – proper notice and a lawsuit for eviction. The sheriff can’t help.
Tips for Protecting Yourself from Squatters in Georgia
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