What are a squatter’s rights?

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What are a squatter’s rights?

I moved into a house. I’ve been here for more than 3 days without the landlord’s consent. I’ve done many improvements to the house while here and now he is trying to get me for trespassing. Are there any rights for “squatters”? And what recourse do I have?

Asked on June 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Some European nations have "squatter's rights"; however, the United States does not. A "squatter" in the U.S. is better known by a different term: "trespassser." You have no rights whatsover to be in that property, and the landlord may have the police remove you as a trespasser; even if the police refuse to act (and note--they should act), believing that they need a judge to rule on this situation and confirm that you have no right to be there, then you could still be evicted by court officers after an eviction or ejectment proceeding.

Having made improvements gives you no rights--you cannot get rights to another's property by improving it without his/her consent--and you don't even have any rights to your improvements--you effectively gifted them to the landlord.

If you damage the premises, you could be sued for compensation and/or jailed for vandalism or destruction of property.

In short, you have no rights in this situation and no recourse. You will have to go if the landlord wants you out. You best and only bet is to negotiate with the landlord--maybe he will allow you to rent it at a very favorable rate in exchange for you continuing to make improvements to it; or if not, if your improvements are good ones and you're skilled, maybe you can get him to hire you to do handyman and construction work.


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