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Squatter Rights in Alabama

Richard Latimer

December 10, 2021

Do Squatter Rights in Alabama apply? Squatter rights in Alabama generally are not recognized. However, adverse possession rules are respected.

It is unacceptable in this state for someone to claim the right to inhabit someone else's property falsely. To lawfully stay on the property, they must meet the standards of adverse possession.

To live in a property that has been foreclosed or abandoned without permission from the legitimate owner is illegal. An illegal occupant of land that does not belong to them is a squatter.

However, there are situations where squatting is permitted, although it is against the law. When squatters falsely claim property ownership, they are breaking the law. As long as they're not using bogus documents or statements, the landowner can take legal action against them.

Squatters frequently target abandoned buildings. In Alabama, the term "abandoned" refers to property taxes that have been unpaid for more than a year.

Each state area has its own unique set of rules and regulations, and in this article, we will be looking at Squatter Rights in Alabama.

Trespassing vs. Squatting:

While trespassing and squatting aren't the same things, they're often used interchangeably in the same context.

The key difference between the two is that trespassing is illegal, and squatting, on the other hand, is seen as more of a community issue. Legal action may be taken if a property owner can prove that the squatting party or parties are not welcome.

🔄Roundup: A trespasser will enter a property by causing damage, often by breaking a door or smashing a window which is why they are considered illegal. However, a squatter will access a property through an unlocked door or an already broken window.

Adverse Possession in Alabama

A No Trespassing Sign

Taking someone else's property without them knowing is a crime in Alabama. Laws legislated in the United States to protect land are referred to as "adverse possession." It was enacted for the benefit of the land, and it states that anyone who can use the land may register a claim if the current owner isn't using it.

There are many obstacles that squatters in Alabama face when acquiring property rights. There is a better chance for residents of Alabama than residents of other states to regain ownership of their property.

Alabama turns to "adverse possession" statutes to enforce its rights rather than relying on "squatters."

"Adverse possession" is a legally recognized concept that allows someone to claim ownership of someone else's property. In the past, examples of adverse possession included the continued use of a private road or drive and the development of underutilized land for farming purposes.

The law of adverse possession encourages those who are "adversely possessed" rather than the true landowner to use the ground to promote productive property use. This rule only applies if there are no other occupants on the property. The landlord, other tenants, or anyone else who isn't a tenant isn't allowed to share their possessions with them.

Following the state's statutory period, the land's ownership must always be maintained. According to the law, adverse possession can last three to twenty years.

Adverse possessors in many states have the option of extending their adverse possession period if the two professions are not separated by more than a year. Landowners under the majority age declared insane or incarcerated do not begin to run the statutory period.

There will be no delay in the statute of limitations if one or more of the conditions listed above is present during that time.

For an adverse possession claim to stand, squatters must have occupied the land for a set time. It takes at least 20 years of continuous occupancy for an Alabama squatter to be recognized as a legitimate claimant.

It's reduced to ten years if they have paid property taxes for the last decade. Many people take advantage of squatters ' rights to own a piece of property without paying rent or a mortgage.

Color of title definition

When discussing adverse possession and squatters' rights, the term "color of title" is frequently used.

Squatters and trespassers have the legal right to occupy a piece of land. The color of the title can be affected by a claim of adverse possession. This could indicate that the property was not acquired in a "normal" manner, and as a result, they may be missing some of the required ownership documents.

The acquisition of a piece of real estate without the proper legal authority is possible. In this case, the squatter is entitled to the land they own. Only the portion of the property they have occupied is theirs in this case.

Adverse Possession Requirements

There'S A Set Of Requirements To Be Granted Adverse Possession

Before claiming adverse possession in Alabama, a squatter must meet the following conditions. Use the property per these guidelines:

Hostile

Hostile and damaging occupation of genuine owner's property is required. Unauthorized entry into a property is not regarded as hostile. Once an owner's property interests have been threatened, they do not need to know about the occupation if it's detrimental to the owner's property interests.

🧠Remember: The term 'hostile' does not imply that the land was taken in an aggressive or violent matter but instead has another legal definition.

Three definitions of "hostile" are listed here:

  • The work is simple.

A majority of the states in the United States adhere to this rule. Just trespassing on someone else's property, even if you are unaware of its ownership, constitutes "hostility.

  • Trespassing is recognized

 It is well-known that trespassers intrude on private property without permission. Then they may have relied on incorrect or flawed paperwork in some way. In this case, the trespasser is unaware of the property's legal status.

  • Possession is a real-life concept

According to this, the trespasser is present and acting as if they owned the property themselves. Provide proof of the landscaping and cleaning efforts on the property to demonstrate this.

Open and Notorious

The squatter or trespasser must make it clear that they are in control of the land to be deemed "open and notorious.". A trespassing investigation by a property owner can meet this standard even if the owner has reason to believe that someone is intruding.

Exclusive

The adverse possessor must have exclusive possession of the property to the exclusion of the legitimate owner, as defined by the "exclusive" possession condition.

They may, however, share ownership of the property with another person. In that circumstance, the property will be held in adverse possession by the two (or more) possessors. Everyone else is barred from accessing the land unless they pursue a claim of adverse possession.

Continuous

The property must be either immovable or mobile. The nature of the possession must be visible, hostile, and uninterrupted over the period stipulated by the Limitation Act.

As stated, under Article 65 of the Limitation Act, adverse possession can not be declared quickly. The statute of limitations expiration, proof of adverse possession will be required. Because of this, unfavorable owners can use the property per its nature.

In some cases, these rules may not apply to all situations.

  • To avoid trespassing charges, squatters must beautify the land.
  • Cleaning up after yourself is just one of the many helpful tasks that can be accomplished.
  • In an emergency, trespassing may not apply to someone who enters someone else's property or land without their consent.
  • For an adverse possession claim to succeed, there must be no other use of the property.

Squatter Rights in Alabama: Holdover Tenants

When tenants stay in a property after their lease has expired, they are known as "holdover tenants." If a landlord agrees to a person occupying their property, a holdover tenant must continue to pay rent at the same rate and terms.

Depending on the circumstances, the tenant may face legal consequences if the landlord orders them out of the property (or gives them "notice to quit").

🔑Key Fact: If tenants refuse to leave a property once the landlord has requested them to move out, they are unlawful detainers.

After receiving notice and being ordered to leave the property, a holdover tenant can no longer claim adverse possession. They are breaking the law by trespassing at this point.

Landlords can still collect rent from their tenants even if they don't want to leave their homes, and the tenant will hold Free-landlord status.

If a tenant knowingly occupies a landlord's property, the landlord can order the tenant to leave the property at any time, with or without notice.

Squatter Rights in Alabama: Do They Have to pay Property Tax?

Calculating Property Taxes For Article Squatter Rights In Alabama

By adverse occupation, squatters in Alabama are not required to show that they have paid their property taxes. If the property has been well maintained for at least 20 years, this is no longer necessary.

Those who have paid taxes for the past ten years are eligible for a ten-year suspension of their sentence. Squatters will have an easier time obtaining property ownership if they have this documentation.

Important: Your county will send a delinquency notice if property taxes are not paid. In this notice, you'll find out how much taxes you owe and the penalties that occurred, as well as a deadline to pay your overdue taxes.

In Alabama, how do you remove squatters?

In Alabama, removing squatters from a property is much easier than in other states. It's improbable that any legal issues will arise out of this situation.

Landowners and landlords can evict or reclassify illegal occupants as tenants. Squatters in Alabama are not required to follow a specific eviction procedure. If you want to evict them, do so as if they were tenants. 

Legal and illegal activity are among the most common reasons for non-payment of rent. The landlord or landowner must issue an eviction notice to remove a squatter.

After receiving these notices, the squatters have seven days to leave the property, where they can decide to vacate or be evicted.

Summary: Squatter Rights in Alabama

Squatter Rights in Alabama generally do not apply; however, the state does adhere to adverse possession legislation.

For a squatter seeking adverse possessions, they are legally required to meet a set of requirements such as being open, notorious, and exclusive.

Although squatters in Alabama are not required to pay property taxes, they may be eligible for a ten-year suspension off their original 20-year sentence if they pay taxes. Paying property taxes will allow squatters to obtain the property a lot easier if they prove they've paid taxes.

A landlord or property owner should always pay property taxes even if they are not occupying their property.

If you are unsure about turning off utilities on a squatter, check out more information in our helpful guide!

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