WILL A PERSON BE ABLE TO CLAIM SQUATTERS RIGHTS IF WE LET THEM STAY IN A TRAILER ON OUR PROPERTY?

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WILL A PERSON BE ABLE TO CLAIM SQUATTERS RIGHTS IF WE LET THEM STAY IN A TRAILER ON OUR PROPERTY?

WE ARE LETTING FRIENDS STAY ON OUR PROPERTY IN OUR VACANT SINGLE WIDE TRAILER. THEY PAY FOR THEIR ELECTRICITY BUT NOTHING ELSE. THEY HAVE BEEN THERE ALMOST A YEAR. WE TRIED TO HELP THEM AFTER THEIR HOUSE WAS FORECLOSED. I DON’T CARE IF THEY ARE THERE BUT i DON’T WANT TO LOSE MY PROPERTY. SHOULD I CHARGE THEM A $1.00 A YEAR FOR RENT?

Asked on September 23, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What you are worried about is them obtaining the right to the property through what is known as "adverse possession" which is what the term "squatters" has evolved in to.  Adverse possession claims are different that the circumstances that you describe here.  You have given permission for the friends to stay at the trailer.  Under adverse possession it is against the rights of the true owners and without permission.  Also, adverse possession takes a long time.  And I believe that in Washington State it is 10 years.  Having a lease agreement is not a bad idea in any event no matter what you are charging them. Setting out the rights and liabilities between you gives you a definite answer to questions that could strain a friendship later on.  Like who prunes the trees or shovels the snow.  Good luck.


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