Andrew Parker

25 States Where Squatters Can Legally Snatch Your Property via Adverse Possession Laws

Have you ever heard of “adverse possession?” Probably not. It’s a law that lets squatters get ownership of the land they’ve been living on, just so long as they follow certain laws and live there for a specific amount of time. It might sound crazy, but it’s true in some states. Today, we’re looking at 25 of those states and the limits around them.


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Alabama is first up on our list, thanks to the American Apartment Owners’ Association. If you’ve been living somewhere for ten years and paid taxes there, you might just get to call it your own. It’s kinda like a decade-long test of commitment. Just so long as you can prove you’re the one who’s been keeping it up all this time, you’ve basically earned it.


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Up in Alaska, keep your hat on a chunk of land and pay taxes there for anywhere between 7 to 10 years. Why? Well, then you might be able to stake your claim on it because the state’s essentially rewarding you for braving the elements. All you need to do is to sign a bit of paperwork to really seal the deal.


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In Arizona, you’ve got to pay your dues to the state for anywhere between three to ten years to get a shot at making it officially yours if you can turn that desert camp into your very castle. Sounds wild, right? The state’s practically giving you a nod of approval just because you’ve been looking after the place.


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Arkansas has got a pretty simple deal. Stick around on a piece of land for seven years and pay taxes there, and the land is practically as good as yours. Paying taxes shows the state government you’re responsible enough to take care of it financially, too. Once you hit that lucky seven, you’re part of the Arkansas family.


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In California, the rules are even more laid-back at only five years, which might have you swapping your surfboard for a mailbox sooner than you think. As long as you pay the taxes on time, the Golden State could reward you with an actual house. But we reckon the residents here don’t feel so good about it.


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Over in Colorado, you’ve got a choice between a marathon or a sprint. If you’ve got the golden deed and you’re up-to-date with your taxes, it’s just seven years. If not, you’ll need to tough it out for 18 to claim a piece of the Rockies. You’ve got to show you’re committed to the high life, both with your attitude and your responsibility.


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Sure, fifteen years sounds like some serious commitment. But for Connecticut, it’s the sweet spot to show the government that you’re not just passing through. They need to know that you’re in it for the long haul, with each year bringing you a little closer to that dream of official ownership.


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It’s not so easy over in Delaware. Here, you’ve got to prove yourself for a whopping two decades before you can claim ownership. Show that you can stick it out and keep those tax payments flowing, and you might get a reward from the state government. It’s a little bit of work to get a slice of your own.


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Fancy soaking up the sun? Then why not head over to Florida to get a tan? As long as you’ve been doing it for over seven years, this habit could get you a house. Of course, you’ve got to be straightforward with paying your taxes as well and prove you’re more than just a beach bum. Do it right, and Florida might just hand over the keys.


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In Georgia, seven years might get you started, but in some areas, get ready to dig in for up to 20. You need to nurture the land, making it through sweat and timely tax payments. But there’s a bit more in the fine print, like needing to occupy the property exclusively for yourself and not being able to leave it for more than a few weeks.


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Squaring away 20 years in Hawaii sounds like paradise, especially when you think about those endless summers and stunning sunsets. Just imagine spending two decades growing up with the land and giving to it. At the end of it all, Hawaii’s officials will give you the right to become an official landowner.


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In Idaho, things take a long time. You’ve got to spend a while there, 20 years to be precise, if you want to have any rights as a squatter. But if you think about it, it’s pretty important that you stay here this long, as those 20 years will mean you’ve truly become an Idahoan by investing in the land’s story.


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Like Idaho, Illinois likes squatters to live a little longer before they become homeowners. They want you to stay 20 years to show you’re not just a fly-by-night. You’ve got to lay down your roots in the ground and the community, along with seven years of paying your taxes, if you want to become a true Illinoisan.


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If you’ve been living on a plot for a decade in Indiana and been in the taxman’s good books, then you’re practically part of the furniture in Indiana. Forget about the Indy 500. Here, you’re setting up roots that’ll make you part of the local scene. Ten years is enough time to show you’re a committed resident.


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Hang around in Iowa for ten years if you want to become part of the family. It doesn’t matter if you’re farming the field or just enjoying the view because a decade is enough to give you your own chunk of the heartland. But it’s a little different for landowners, as they can evict squatters after five years under certain laws.


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You’ve got to put in your work in Kansas, as squatters need a solid 15-year commitment to make a piece of land theirs. During this time, you’ve got to live on the land like it’s already yours and contribute to the local community. For example, you’ve got to take part in protecting the land and do a bit of farm to get your own slice of the pie.


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In Kentucky, they’re looking for you to serve your time and to become part of the local life. Maybe you’ve done some of the community events, or maybe you’ve become a familiar face that stands up for some of the state’s issues. After 15 years, your reward is getting to call that land officially yours.


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A decade in Louisiana is enough time to prove you’re determined to celebrate Mardi Gras. You need to roll up your sleeves to protect the bayou and show you really care about the state. If you’ve only got the title, then the law is a little different, as you’ve got to have the land for a full 30 years.


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After 20 years in Maine, your bond with the land means you can actually get a piece of it. But you can’t just sit by, you need to be part of the local wildlife efforts. This means protecting the state’s endangered species and leading beach cleanups to protect the coastline. It’s difficult, but we think it’s definitely worth it.


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In Maryland, two decades of being a squatter could give you the deed to your own land. Over these 20 years, you might take part in turning urban spaces into more natural places. If that’s not your thing, perhaps helping Chesapeake Bay’s oyster populations could help you bide your time. 


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Massachusetts is a state that’s pretty famous for its local history, and it’s something you can spend twenty years exploring as a squatter. You’ll also need to take part in protecting this story by working in the local museums or by organizing events to celebrate the state’s revolutionary spirit. The best part of all? You don’t even need to pay property taxes.


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If you want to settle down near the Great Lakes in Michigan, it’s going to take a little work. For starters, you’ll need to be there for fifteen years, and you’ll need to help protect the local wildlife. You might need to help with the water conservation programs or stop the invasive species from taking over the lakes.


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Sure, Minnesota’s got some tough winters, with an average temperature of 12°F in winter. But this is just the start of it if you’re a squatter who wants to become a legal landowner. You’ll need to work hard to help create a sense of community, even in the coldest months, and warm the hearts of people around you.


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After spending a decade in Mississippi as a squatter, you’ll have your own land, and you’ll also be way more interested in the blues. Helping to protect the state’s musical roots is a way of helping it keep its cultural heartbeat alive. But unlike in some other states, you’ll need to pay taxes during this entire time.


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If you want to claim some land in Missouri, then you have to be there for ten years, helping out the community. On the plus side, you don’t need to pay property taxes, although it might help your case out to do so. Unfortunately, for landowners, there’s no easy way to remove squatters from your land.

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