What is a squatter in Texas?
In Texas law, a squatter is a person who is living in a building or land that is either abandoned, unoccupied, or foreclosed without the legal consent of the real property owner. While it is hard to believe to most, squatting is legal and common in the U.S.
Read till the end of the article and find out the fastest way to get out of a squatter situation.
Squatting Vs. Trespassing in Texas
Squatting is a civil issue and trespassing is seen as a criminal offense. That means that just like other civil issues, a squatter in Texas will have to be dealt with in court. That said, a squatting issue can become criminal if the property or house owner or landlord has made it clear that the individual in question is not welcomed.
You as the homeowner might be unlucky enough to be dealing with a professional squatter. A professional squatter will know all the loopholes and ways to stay on the property free of charge for as long as possible.
Remember these important key points:
- Squatters and trespassers may provide fake documents claiming they have a right to your property.
- Squatters do have rights but they must fulfill adverse possession requirements to take advantage of them. They can be arrested as trespassers if they do not fulfill the requirements in Texas.
- Most squatters tend to be homeless hoping to loophole their way into a home without paying rent or a mortgage.
Exemptions to these key points are:
- A person can avoid being prosecuted for trespassing in Texas if they improve the property. Simple tasks such as removing debri or planting can be considered enough to avoid being prosecuted.
- A legit emergency can make an individual exempt from trespassing when gaining unauthorised access to your Texas house.
- The property must not be in use for a squatter to make a legal adverse possession claim.
Are Holdover Tenants Squatters in Texas?
A holdover tenant is defined as a renter who remains in a property after the expiration of the lease. If the landlord continues to accept payments, the holdover tenant can continue to occupy the property legally, Texas laws and court ruling will then determine the length of the holdover tenant’s new rental term. If the landlord chooses to no longer accept payments the tenant is considered to be trespassing and if they do not promptly move out, an eviction might be necessary.
A holdover tenant will not be able to make an adverse possession claim if they have already been asked to leave. At this point, they are considered a trespasser instead of a squatter under Texas laws.
How Can A Squatter Gain Possession of a Property in Texas
There are 5 requirements that must be met in Texas for a squatter to gain adverse possession.
- Open and Notorious
What does each of these mean?
Often understood as violent or dangerous, in the legal sense hostile has three definitions.
- Good Faith Mistake: If a squatter makes a good faith mistake in occupying the Texas house. They are using the property in good faith, unaware of the current legal status.
- Awareness: This rule requires the Texas trespasser to be aware that their use of the land or building is trespassing.
- Simple Occupation: This rule is followed by most states today. The trespasser doesn’t have to know that the Texas house belongs to someone else. Hostile is defined as occupation of the house.
Actual possession requires that the trespasser is physically present at the house and takes care of it as if they actually owned it. This can be proved by the trespasser documenting what they have done to maintain and improve the property. Any improvement efforts are examples of actual possession of the house.
Open and Notorious
It must be obvious to anyone that someone is occupying the property. A squatter can not try to hide the fact that they live there. Texas homeowners should make a reasonable efforts to monitor their unoccupied house and be able to tell if someone is squatting on their property.
The trespasser must possess the house exclusively. Meaning they can not share possession with anyone including strangers, the owner, or other tenants.
The Texas squatter must reside on the property for 10 or more continuous years before they can claim adverse possession. This time must be continuous and uninterrupted.
How To Get Rid Of A Texas Squatter?
Texas has no special laws for squatters. Filing a judicial eviction process to remove the squatter from the property should suffice to get rid of them.
In Texas, the homeowner can serve the squatter with a 3-day notice to vacate. If the squatter does not leave the property the homeowner can file an eviction with their county court. The judge will usually side with the homeowner unless the squatter has a good defense to the eviction.
Can You Sell Your House With A Squatter in Texas?
Most of the time it is nearly impossible to find a home buyer wanting to take on the headache that is dealing with a squatter. Good Neighbor is not your typical buyer. We often deal with complicated situations including squatters and even professional squatters. We are experienced enough in dealing with them to where we can make you a fair cash offer within 24 hours and you can sell your squatter house without the headache. We cover all fees and commissions and require zero repairs to the property before purchasing. Give us a call at 281-713-3255 or fill out the form below to talk to a licensed agent about your Texas squatter house.