Squatters are people who settle in or on an abandoned or unoccupied property without permission. It sounds like trespassing, but- under Louisiana law- that is not always the case. Furthermore, they could gain legal title and ownership of the said property if they follow certain rules.

Understanding the ins and outs of the relationship between landlords and tenants and a squatter's rights in Louisiana can help you maintain possession and control over your empty properties and be better prepared to deal with unwanted occupants.

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Now, let’s dive in. 

Louisiana Squatters' Rights

  • Squatting is not illegal in Louisiana in and of itself. It becomes illegal if the person ignores a written eviction notice, tries to present false papers claiming ownership, or causes a public nuisance.
  • A squatter is technically doing nothing wrong until the owner makes it clear they are not welcome- which is why they must remain vigilant around their vacant properties.
  • Louisiana's government entities do not support short-term squatting, but they may grant legal ownership through adverse possession if all conditions are met.
  • Adverse possession actions in Louisiana are also known as acquisitive prescription.
  • It takes 30 years of uninterrupted possession for squatters to qualify- or 10 years if they have a color or title.
  • The basic rules are the same as most states but with slightly different wording.
  • Landlords and owners can remove squatters through a standard eviction- but they cannot attempt to remove them forcibly.

Adverse Possession Claim

To be able to make a just title claim under Louisiana adverse possession laws, a squatter must tick all the following boxes:

  • They must hold continuous possession for at least 30 years. If someone believes they are the rightful property owners and have a color of title to prove it, the continuous possession requirements may reduce to 10 years.
  • The occupation must also be uninterrupted- they cannot leave and come back after a few weeks. Any breaks in the occupation reset the clock to zero.
  • Peaceable occupancy is a must. It is one of the laws that are slightly different in Louisiana- the state specifically prohibits squatters from disturbing the peace or causing any trouble or annoyance in the community.
  • Squatters must also have public occupancy. In most states, this is referred to as open and notorious- but the wording in Louisiana law is slightly different. It means the same thing- they must make no effort to hide their presence- it should be very obvious that they are there.
  • Acquisitive prescription law also specifies squatters must have an indisputable presence- meaning it must be a known fact that they occupy the space.
  • Lastly, there must be visible and discernible bounds. This means the squatter must put up a fence or boundary around the area to enclose it in some way.

To summarize, Louisiana adverse possession claim rules state that a person must openly, publicly, and peacefully occupy a property or piece of land continuously for 30 years without leaving for any length of time- and during their time, they must set up a visible boundary and make their presence known.

They don't need to pay property taxes or have a color of title- but both things can help support them in their pursuit of acquisitive prescription.

If the actual property owner does not serve written notice denying permission and never officially asks them to leave, they could take legal action to secure rightful ownership.

Stop Squatters

The best way to save yourself headaches regarding squatters' rights and adverse possession laws is to prevent them from gaining access to your property in the first place- but there are procedures in place to get them out if they do.

Here are a few simple steps landlords and property owners can take to reduce the likelihood of squatters settling on their land. The moves you can make under Louisiana law if you already have squatters and want to get rid of them are also listed below.

Prevent Squatters from Occupying the Property

Put Up No Trespassing Signs and Keep All Entrances Secure

One of the first lines of defense against squatters is clearly establishing that the land or building is private property and that trespassing is not permitted. It is often enough to deter potential unwanted occupants- and eliminates any claims that the squatter believes they were allowed to be there.

Also, keeping the doors and windows locked stops people from attempting to break in. Installing a security system is even better.

Look After Your Vacant Properties

Squatters tend to look for abandoned properties that they think nobody is likely to care about. If your vacant space looks derelict and uncared for, they may see it as an easy target. A well-kept, clean-looking property suggests somebody visits regularly and is likely to ask them to leave very quickly.

Try to check in on your properties regularly- or have the neighbors keep an eye out for any movement.

Rent Your Properties Rather than Leave them Empty

A squatter can't take over your property if it is already rented to someone else. Work with a recommended management company that can find suitable tenants quickly to take the burden of worrying about an empty space off your shoulders.

Get Rid of Squatters Before They can Claim Adverse Possession or Acquisitive Prescription

Serve an Eviction Notice

The correct legal way to remove squatters in Louisiana is through an eviction. Louisiana eviction laws are quite simple- and there are no special processes for squatters to complicate things.

In any instance where the tenancy or squatter occupation is less than one month, a five-day notice to quit must be served. This applies to all lease violations, failures to pay rent, and general occupation without approval- and allows the person five days to leave the property.

If they had a lease for more than a month (if your squatters are holdover tenants), you need to give them 30 days.

At the end of the notice period, if the person has not left the premises, you can file an eviction lawsuit with the court. The squatter can fight the suit if they want, but they are unlikely to win. It can take time, but once the eviction is granted, the sheriff can remove the unwanted occupants.

Offer to Rent Them the Property

If you don't want to immediately go down the route of eviction, you could offer the squatters the opportunity to rent the property from you as lawful tenants.

This stops them from being able to make an adverse possession claim, gives them a more secure living condition, and brings in some money for you as the absent owner.

Sell the Property to an As-Is Cash Buyer

Another possible option for those who don't want to deal with an eviction battle is to sell the property as-is to an online cash buyer. Most of these companies will buy just about any property in its current state for a fast cash sale.

The price is usually much lower than market value- but it is an appealing offer for those who just want rid of their abandoned property quickly. Squatters then become somebody else's problem to deal with.

Color Of Title

Squatters do not need a color of title to make a successful adverse possession claim or qualify for acquisitive prescription. However, having one significantly reduces the requirements for continuous possession- from 30 years to 10 years.

Legal Limit

Technically speaking, a squatter is doing no wrong by occupying someone else's property until the owner makes it abundantly clear that they are not welcome. With that in mind, there is no limit to how long they can stay if nobody intervenes.

As soon as they are officially asked to leave by the property owner, they must comply within the timeframe of the eviction notice- after which they are trespassing.

Property Taxes

Louisiana adverse possession laws do not require squatters to pay property taxes to be able to make a claim- but doing so could work in their favor.

A squatter can only pay property taxes if the actual owner is not paying them- so it supports the claim that the squatter is looking after the property as if they had ownership- better than the current landlord.

Removing Squatters

Only the sheriff has the authority to forcibly remove Louisiana squatters- and only after the court issues a 24-hour Writ of Possession.

Any attempt made by a landlord or property owner to force out squatters is illegal- including changing locks or turning off the power and water.

Final Word

It takes 30 years of uninterrupted occupation for a squatter to earn the right to make an adverse possession claim in Louisiana- unless they have what they believe to be a legal title or deed to the property.

Even with a color of title, they must still occupy the property according to all Louisiana adverse possession laws for at least a decade.

Learn more about landowner regulations and processes in Louisiana, and download these helpful forms and documents to be prepared for every situation. Stay on top of your land and buildings, and protect your rights as a property owner.


Who can forcibly remove squatters in Louisiana?

Only the sheriff has the authority to forcibly remove Louisiana squatters- and only after the court issues a 24-hour Writ of Possession.

Does paying property taxes have any bearing on a squatter's Louisiana adverse possession claim?

Louisiana adverse possession laws do not require squatters to pay property taxes to be able to make a claim- but doing so could work in their favor.

Is there a set amount of time squatters can legally stay on a Louisiana property?

Technically speaking, a squatter is doing no wrong by occupying someone else's property until the owner makes it abundantly clear that they are not welcome. With that in mind, there is no limit to how long they can stay if nobody intervenes.

Should I consult with an attorney before raising rent?

It's always a good and safe idea to consult with an attorney before raising rent, especially if the research you've done shows that you could be in violation for increasing rent too much.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!