If you’re a homeowner, you know squatters can be a nightmare. What makes things worse is that the information around how to get rid of squatters and sell your property is vague. Though people may often confuse squatting and trespassing, these are two different things.
While trespassing may be seen as a legal offense, squatting means moving into an abandoned or unused house. Thus, if you have squatters in your home and there’s no other legal offense, your dispute may be treated as a civil issue, and getting the squatters to evict could be difficult.
Thankfully, there are ways to sell your property that has squatters. This article discusses some of the top tips on how to sell your home even if you have squatters.
What Are Squatters And What Are Their Rights?
To begin with, squatting is an act of making use of an unused and abandoned property for free accommodation at the expense of the property owner. Though squatting is technically illegal, there are certain loopholes in the law related to tenants that may protect squatters somehow.
To claim rights over a property, one has to stay there for a minimum of 18 years. Therefore, squatters may often refer to unwanted tenants that have occupied your property with the intention of not moving out for a long time. In such cases, consider selling your home to real estate companies like quick cash buyers. Their tagline, we buy houses, perfectly describes their expertise in selling homes.
The main catch lies in the law that even the rightful property owner cannot remove the squatters without prior order from the court. Luckily, in most cases, squatters are removed by order of the court that sanctions the removal of squatters. But to deal with the squatters can be a hassle, and you may need to know the laws well.
Selling Your House Even If You have Squatters
If you’re a homeowner trying to sell your house with squatters in it, these tips can help you.
- Know The Laws
To avoid any issue with squatters, make sure you know your state’s local laws regarding tenants. Many states rule that anyone who stays on a property for more than 30 days becomes a tenant. This loophole in the law is often used by squatters and makes it difficult for property owners to evict them.
In rare cases, squatters may claim right over the property. This is known as adverse possession. But for this to happen, not only does the squatter have to be living in the property for many years continuously, but it also has to meet several other conditions.
- Inform The Authorities
A squatter is someone using your property without your permission. Thus, when you see your vacant property occupied by squatters, immediately inform the local police as this act of using someone’s property without permission can also be considered trespassing, which is a legal offense.
Informing the authorities is one of the most critical steps that a landlord can take, as the police can then have the squatters removed. When the police come to your property, make sure to show them the legal documents that prove the house is yours.
Some of the squatters are professional, and removing them from your property can be a difficult task. In such cases, the squatters often provide false legal documentation or take advantage of state tenancy laws to prove that they have been allowed to stay on the property. Thus, refusing to leave at all.
In this situation, you may have to consider the eviction process that can be costly and time-consuming. Some landlords looking to sell a house fast may even make an offer of money to get the squatters to leave their property.
- Begin The Eviction Process
If the police can’t get them to leave and the squatters refuse to budge even after several protests, it may be the right time to begin the legal eviction process. There are different eviction laws in other states, but most often, the process starts with issuing a legal notice indicating that the squatters should evict your property.
Luckily, an eviction notice may scare the squatters away, and they may evict your property. However, if a legal notice doesn’t work, the squatters will be given a notice of specific days to evict the property.
If the squatters don’t leave your property even then, you may need to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit against the people squatting on your property. Then, authorities will serve the lawsuit, and there will be a court hearing in a few days.
Suppose the court hearing goes in your favor. In that case, if you have all your legal documentation in place, the squatters will be given a certain number of days to evict your property before the legal authorities take action and change your house locks. Moreover, if the squatter refuses to leave after the ruling, you may need to hire police to get them forcefully removed.
Though this process is useful, it often takes time and can be costly.
- Clean Up And Sell
After the squatters have been removed, you may want to take a good look at your property and check for the damage done. Chances are, out of spite, the squatters may have caused further damage to your property.
Start the process by deep cleaning your home and check with the authorities if you can throw away their belongings left behind or if there are any legal proceedings you may have to follow.
If there are any severe property damages, consider repairing them before you put your house on sale. Since everyone wants a house in ideal condition, fixing the home is essential to get a reasonable rate.
However, after dealing with squatters and bearing expensive legal and repair costs, you may want to sell the house as-is instead of renovating it. Consider selling your home to a cash buyer or a real estate investor who can buy it from you and take care of it before they put it up in the market again.
If you’re a homeowner with squatters in your home, know that it may not be an easy road ahead before putting your property on sale. Luckily, you can do things immediately to start the eviction process and get the squatters to leave your property at the earliest.
Once the squatters have left, you may clean and repair your home before putting it up for sale.