Are you a property owner in Kansas? You're probably wondering what squatters' rights are.
Firstly, let's look at what a squatter is. Squatters are people who occupy a property without obtaining the owner's permission. These properties are generally abandoned, vacant, or foreclosed. A squatter has legal rights even if they have no lease, right, or title over the property.
After a specific amount of time, squatters may assert ownership claims (adverse possession) over the property they are occupying. Squatters claiming adverse possession in Kansas are required to have lived on the property for at least 15 years. (KSS § 60-503).
Adverse Possession laws specify other requirements in addition to the 15-year occupancy rule. Other conditions must also be met by the squatter if they want to claim ownership over your property.
Knowing the adverse possession criteria as a landowner in Kansas will assist you in keeping squatters off your land!
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Now, let’s dive in.
Kansas Squatters' Rights
Essentially, squatters are unauthorized occupants who live on properties they do not own or pay rent for. Despite this, once you realize they are residing on your land, you cannot kick them out. Squatters have the right to stay on the property until you follow the correct eviction processes.
A squatter may also be able to acquire legal ownership of the land they are occupying under adverse possession laws after a predetermined amount of time.
Under Kansas law, a squatter has to wait 15 years before they claim ownership of the property. However, they have to have paid property taxes for this period of time in order for the claim to be successful.
In order to claim adverse possession over your property, a squatter needs to meet specific criteria. The five criteria are:
In order to make a successful adverse possession claim, the squatter needs to prove continuous possession of the property. Hence, the squatter needs to prove that he/she resided on the property for a minimum of 15 years.
Furthermore, the 15 years needs to be uninterrupted, meaning that the squatter doesn't have a valid continuous possession claim if they left the property for a few weeks or months and returned at a later date to claim it.
When it comes to actual possession of the property, the squatter needs to physically occupy the premises. Therefore, they need to physically be on the property and treat it as if it were their own. This means carrying out improvement projects and maintenance activities. It is often known as the beautification of the property.
Open and Notorious Possession
Under this specific requirement, the squatter needs to make it known that they are residing on the property. Hence, neighbors, other community members, and the property owner need to know that the squatter is living on the premises.
To make a successful adverse possession claim, the squatter needs to be the only person residing on the premises. Therefore, they cannot share the property with other individuals.
Hostile doesn't always have to mean violent, unfriendly, or dangerous. When it comes to a squatter's rights, it simply means possessing the property, as this is an infringement of the landowner's rights.
Under Kansas law, 'hostile' has three definitions, namely:
Most states use this definition as it refers to the simple occupation of land. Under this definition, there is an assumption that the individual doesn't know that the property belongs to someone.
Good Faith Mistake
Under this term, the squatter is unaware of the legal status of the premises. They have made an innocent good-faith mistake in occupying the premises. Keep in mind that a squatter can still rely on an incorrect or invalid deed when making a good faith mistake. The main factor is that they're unaware of the land's legal status.
Awareness of Trespassing
If an individual is aware that they don't have the legal right to occupy the premises, they fall under the 'Awareness of Trespassing' rule.
While Kansas doesn't have any specific squatter removal laws, the process is quite quick and simple. In fact, the landlord simply has to go through the standard eviction process to remove the squatter.
However, this excludes any self-eviction methods. Property owners cannot force squatters to leave by changing the locks or switching off the utilities. This is infringing on the squatter's rights and is illegal. You also risk facing a possible lawsuit if you do this.
When it comes to removing a squatter, the first thing you need to do is serve the squatter with a written notice. This notice gives the squatter the reason for the eviction and lists any actions they need to complete in a certain time period.
Kansas has two grounds for eviction:
3-Day Notice to Pay
According to Kansas law, landlords may issue a 3-day notice to vacate or pay rent, along with a sum the lessee must pay in order to stay on the premises.
No Lease or End of Lease
If the tenant continues to occupy the building after the end of their lease or if there was never a lease in the first place, the landlord may give them notice to leave. The notice period is determined based on the kind of tenancy.
You can go to court and file an eviction case if the person doesn't vacate within the time frame specified in the notification (or forcible detainer). A hearing may be scheduled in as little as three days, but it cannot be done in more than 14 days. The squatter then has 10 days to contest the eviction.
The tenant is given a deadline to vacate when the judge rules in the landowner's favor; if they continue to refuse after receiving this notice, the owner must request a "Writ of Restitution" from the court. Then, the tenant will be evicted by the local sheriff's office within 10 days.
The landlord is required to post a notice in the neighborhood newspaper within 15 days if the individual leaves any personal belongings behind.
They must then send a copy to the squatter at his or her last known address. If the items are unclaimed after 30 days, the owner may sell them or deal with them as they deem appropriate.
If you need to brush up on your knowledge of Kansas eviction laws, be sure to check out DoorLoop's comprehensive guide.
Color of Title Claims
"Color of title" claims may be something you've heard of before. The absence of the necessary documentation, typically a title or deed to the property, indicates that the individual making an adverse possession claim lacks color of title.
Squatters in Kansas are permitted to apply for adverse possession under the color of title; however, they must wait 15 years and pay taxes for that entire period.
Color of title usually helps squatters when it comes to filing an adverse possession case. However, different states have different laws.
Protect Vacant Property
By implementing any of the following measures, you can protect your property against unwanted squatters in Kansas:
- Pay property taxes on time.
- Inspect your property regularly.
- Place "No Trespassing" signs across the property.
- Give the squatter the option of signing a lease agreement and paying rent for the property.
- Serve a written notice to the squatter as soon as you notice the occupation.
- Implement proper security measures, such as ensuring all doors and windows are locked.
- To assist you in renting out your vacant property, work with a property management company. You will be able to find a trustworthy tenant who will take good care of the unit and pay the rent on time.
No, holdover tenants and squatters are not the same thing. Holdover tenants are lessees who choose to remain on the landlord's property once the lease has expired. If this happens, the tenant needs to keep paying rent in line with the current terms and rate.
Therefore, the landlord doesn't have to worry about the legality of the occupancy. They can simply accept the rent.
If the landlord agrees to continue under these terms, the lessee becomes a 'tenant at will.' This means the landlord is free to evict the tenants at any time without any notice of eviction.
However, holdover tenants are not able to claim adverse possession.
The Bottom Line
You have to be aware of squatters' rights in Kansas if you're dealing with an unwanted guest on your premises. Getting rid of them isn't as easy as you might think, and all relevant laws need to be complied with.
If you're a property owner or landlord, you need to be well-versed with Kansas Landlord-Tenant Laws. This protects you and the tenant against any potential problems. Are you a little rusty? There's no need to panic; DoorLoop has a wide range of free resources that cover all important aspects of lease agreements.
Is It Illegal to Squat in a Home?
No, squatting is not illegal if the property is vacant or unoccupied. However, it is illegal if the landlord or property owner has put up a "No Trespassing" sign or if the building is lawfully occupied by somebody else.
Does a Squatter Have to Pay Property Taxes in Kansas?
Yes, the squatter needs to have paid taxes for at least 15 years if they make to make an adverse possession claim. However, if not, the squatter doesn't have to worry about paying taxes.
How Long Can Squatters Stay on a Property in Kansas?
Squatters in Kansas have the right to remain until ordered to vacate. However, a squatter must reside on the premises and pay taxes on it for at least 15 years in a row in order to make an adverse possession claim.
Who Is Considered a Squatter in Kansas?
A Kansas squatter is anyone who occupies another person's property without permission. While squatters are not breaking any laws, dealing with one can be quite a hassle. The federal government has protected the right of homeless individuals to find shelter in vacant buildings since the 1850s. It's crucial to understand the distinction between trespassing and squatting as a result of these laws. Trespassing is a criminal offense while squatting is a civil matter.
What Are Kansas Adverse Possession Laws?
In Kansas, a squatter is allowed to claim adverse possession if they meet the five requirements. Squatters who claim adverse possession gain legal ownership of the property. Therefore, the property will be transferred from the owner's name to the squatter's name. However, in Kansas, squatters have to be living on the property and paying taxes for 15 years to file an adverse possession claim.