What are squatters rights to a house?

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What are squatters rights to a house?

I have lived with and taken care of a disabled relative for a very long time (15+ years). He owns his own home but is on Medicaid so they have put a lien on it. I gave up low income housing to take care of him and am also on disability so I cannot afford to move. If he goes to a care center or, lord forbid, passes they will sell the house and not care what happens to us. Also, I have my disabled son living with me. What are my rights? Can they really just take our family home and put us on the street? Can we claim squatters rights and keep the home? How long will this give us?

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There really isn't anything called "squatters rights"essentially  in the law. People use the term but it is meaningless. Basically, what you have here is a situation in which you could be considered a "tenant" (your caregiving in exchange for rent) or a  "licensee" (a long term guest). In either case you can be evicted. You will have to be given legal notice and if you remain after the date specified for you to leave, an eviction lawsuit (i.e. "unlawful detainer") will have to be filed in court. However, once a judge issues a vacate order, you will have to leave at that time or be forcibly removed by a sherriff.

I'm afraid that without some specific written agreement as to rights in the property, you have none. This is true whether or not you have a disabled son.

As for the exact timeframe, its hard to say. Forcing a sale based on a judgment lien can take months if not years. Yet, you could be evicted long before then; an eviction can be completed in about 4-6 weeks. At this point you should speak with an attorney. See if you qualify fro representation by Legal Aid. Also, see if your local county bar association has a list of lawyers who will work for free or on a reduced fee based on your income. Additionally, see if there is a law school nearby; they typically run free/low cost legal clinics.


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