Q:

How do I legally evict a squatter?

A:

To legally evict squatters from a property, the owner needs to serve them with an eviction notice, followed by a court order if they fail to leave agreeably, according to Jenny Tsay of FindLaw. A court order is obtained by filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit against the squatters.

Before taking legal action, the property owner should make contact with the squatters and understand their intentions, notes The Guardian. Sometimes the squatters could be willing to leave the property amicably. Even after securing a court order for legal eviction, the homeowner may not use force to kick the squatters out of the property, as this could put the owner in trouble with the law, according to Jenny Tsay. In case the squatters are unwilling to honor the court order, the property owner should call the local law enforcement authorities to help with the eviction.

Squatters typically occupy property that has been left vacant and, under certain conditions, may even gain ownership of the property through adverse possession if they uninterruptedly and overtly inhabit it for a certain period of time, which is typically a few years but varies from state to state, notes Jenny Tsay. Property owners can prevent squatting in their homes by hiring security guards while they are away, asking their neighbors to be their watchdogs or regularly visiting their property to check for squatters, advises The Guardian.

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