What Are Squatter's Rights?

Squatter's rights refers to the right of a person to legally use an unoccupied property in the absence of attempts by the owner to evict the squatter. Over time, depending on the respective state laws, the squatter can gain the title to the property, according to US Legal.

If there is an unoccupied and unused property and a homeless person lives there for a certain period of time with no efforts made to evict him by the property owner, the homeless person can claim squatter's rights, notes US Legal. Squatting means occupying a property that legally belongs to someone else, without that person's permission. Squatter's rights is a condition by which a person can claim ownership of the property if he has squatted there for a long period of time. The legal term for this is adverse possession.

According to adverse possession law, if a property is abandoned and someone squats on it for a few years, he can gain legal rights to the property. This is conditional to the owner never having made any attempt to evict the squatter, states US Legal. If the rightful owner evicts the squatter even for a short period of time, or gives him permission to use it, or if the squatter himself abandons the property for some time, he loses the benefit of adverse possession. If the squatter returns to the property, he must remain on it for a full mandatory period in order to acquire the title through the provision of adverse possession. During this mandatory period, one squatter can pass on continuous possession to another squatter, which is known as "tacking" in legal speak.