States Crack Down on Squatters

July 17, 2013

States are tightening up their adverse possession laws and making it tougher for squatters to make claims to properties they don’t own. Adverse possession laws allow squatters to obtain title to a home after they’ve lived in the property for several years. 

Florida is the latest state to change its law and now prohibits “acquiring title to real property by possession.” 

Several squatters have made headlines in recent years, taking up residence even in million-dollar homes and then citing squatters rights to try to make claim to the property. 

Florida’s new law was prompted after 106 home owners pushed for the change when a rapper named Andre Barbosa moved into a multimillion-dollar Boca Raton home and refused to vacate, citing squatter rights. The man created a rap video about his squatting in the property, sparking more outrage among residents. 

Nearly every state has some form of adverse possession law in its books, but states such as New York and Washington also have been updating those laws. You can check the adverse possession laws in your state at

To claim adverse possession, squatters usually have to occupy the home for a certain length of time. For example, in Texas, it can take 10 years of squatting to obtain the property, whereas in Florida -- before the recent law change -- it took 7 years. 

In many cases, the squatters are eventually evicted from the homes they try to occupy, but AOL Real Estate reports that squatting has made home owners into some. For example, Steve DeCaprio spent more than a decade squatting in a home that had been vacated after a death of a home owner. He invested thousands of dollars in repairing the home. Over the years, police had evicted him six times, once with guns drawn. DeCaprio continued to return, even after the city glued the locks and welded the doors shut. He was arrested and on trial for squatting. But eventually, he was able to become a home owner due to adverse possession law. 

Source: “Squatters Beware: States Are Revising Adverse Possession Laws,” AOL Real Estate (July 16, 2013)

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