criminal law
Greg Prosmushkin
Aug 21, 2021

Property is one of the most significant investments an individual makes. Many of us spend our entire lives building our homes. Homeowners have a right to protect their investments by keeping unwanted intruders away from their homes. Yet, we read about cases of unlawful property possession, “squatting,” and occupying land illegally.

Homeowners should never take such situations lightly and should inform the police as soon as they know of the situation. You have the right to take legal action against incidents of stolen property and trespassers. 

What is Illegal Property Possession? 

Trespass is when someone tries to occupy land illegally. Trespass is a type of illegal property possession. If the individual has the owner’s permission to occupy the property, one may not be able to take legal action against them.

However, it is illegal when the owner does not invite or permit the person to enter, occupy, use or possess the property. Rental properties that are occupied as a result of contractual agreements are not considered trespass as long as tenants do not try to stay in the house beyond the terms of the contract. If tenants try to “squat” in the house in violation of the contract or beyond the time permitted, landlords have the right to take legal action against them. 

Property owners must keep an eye on tenants and trespassers. You never know when someone may try to possess or occupy your land unlawfully. Therefore, it is important to have a valid contract by the law when offering your space for rent. You should ensure that signed agreements are in place to prevent the risk of damages later.

Ownership of property by adverse possession

When an individual possesses your land openly for a specified period, they may be able to obtain ownership rights through adverse possession. Adverse possession is a principle of property law that grants rights to the possessor of a piece of property when certain conditions are met. This also signifies that you should note all the tenants’ activities and not allow them to occupy a piece of property for an extended period of time without a valid agreement. 

At common law, a possessor of property may obtain ownership rights when they are in actual, continuous, exclusive, and hostile possession of the property, openly and notoriously, for a specified period. The period varies by statute and jurisdiction. You should take action against the adverse possessor to save your property before the statutory period expires. Get in touch with a reputable lawyer today to fight the trespasser. 

Tips to prevent property crimes and adverse possession

Here, we have listed some critical tips that will help you prevent the risk of such incidents. Keep these things in mind if you are caught up in these situations. 

  1. Block entrances with gates – displaying prominent signage and installing gates could be one easy way of preventing the risk of trespassers. However, this solution might not solve your problem completely. Trespassers may try to remove the signs, jump the gates, and continue illegally entering your property. Therefore, regularly monitoring your property is essential to prevent such incidents and property crimes. If a trespasser is trying to enter your land, you must inform the police immediately. Get the incident reported so the authorities can take legal action against the trespasser.
  2. Only give written permission – If you allow your friends and neighbors to park their vehicles or use your land, you should ensure that you document it in writing. Provide written permission that includes any limitations on the use of the property and maintain legal documents in a safe place to ensure you are protected if there are any issues in the future. Without evidence, you could be placed in a difficult situation if you want them to vacate the land. Failure to have a written agreement can affect your rights to valuable property. Therefore, ensuring that you have everything documented and documenting any legal agreements is important.
  3. Make rental agreements and contracts – When offering property for rent, you should ensure that you have the desired contracts and agreements. Mention all the terms and conditions within the agreement. If there are any specifics, you should ensure they are mentioned in the rental agreement. Do not offer the property for rent without a legal agreement. You should take steps to make the relationship official by having the contract signed by all parties. A knowledgeable attorney can help you draft a comprehensive rental agreement. 
  4. Call the police – If you are facing any issues with tenants or illegally possessing property, you should immediately contact the police. Contacting the police also establishes a record that you dispute the possession of the property by the other party. This may be used as evidence to prove the illegal actions of the possessor. You should also have evidence to prove that you are the property’s legitimate owner, such as a deed or title.
  5. Contact a legal professional – Property cases are complex. You may need assistance from a knowledgeable legal professional to handle the matter. A legal professional can help ensure that the legal requirements have been met to get your property back. Look for a professional who handles cases related to property crimes to help you with this. 

A Landlord Tenant Lawyer has strong in-depth knowledge of the law. He will know the most effective ways to fight for your rights. The process is more manageable when you have a professional by your side to handle legal essentials.