How to Prevent People Claiming Squatters Rights on Your Tennessee Home

Since the end of 2007, the US has seen a massive increase in squatters and today we want to go over TN squatter laws and squatter rights. What was 3 million people spread out around the country has jumped to 4.4 million today and is rapidly growing due to rising rents and stagnant pay rates.

Of course, we all want to help those in need, but when you’re a homeowner trying to get by, the last thing you want to deal with is someone claiming the property you’ve spent time, money, sweat, and tears maintaining belongs to them.

Let’s go over what squatter rights are in Tennessee and how you can prevent anyone from making a claim on your property.

What is a Squatter?

A squatter is any individual who takes it upon themselves to become a resident of a property but without the permission of the owner. This can be anything from an Airbnb guest who overstays their welcome to someone hiding in the basement for years before making themselves known.

The challenge is that these individuals do fall under specific regulations. TN squatter laws protect certain individuals who make it to the threshold of criteria. If they qualify under those laws, they earn certain protections from eviction.

What are TN Squatter Laws?

Every city and state has unique squatter rights. In most cases, these are periods of occupancy that won’t get in the way of ownership because the properties are vacant. However, when a squatter does claim your property, it can be an incredibly uphill legal battle and cost you a lot of money.

To declare as an occupant under TN squatter laws, individuals must:

  • Have lived inside or on the property in question for at least 20 years in order to claim the property as legally under their ownership.
  • Receive a “color of title” that reduces the total squatting time down to seven years.
  • Have been paying property taxes on time to be considered the legal owner of the property.

In any of these situations, Tennessee creates additional time for landlords to fight off squatter rights if the tenant or occupant is underage, imprisoned, mentally incompetent, or disabled at the time of the claim.

The best way to get rid of these individuals is using a standard eviction process, but that is a long and stressful situation.

A sheriff evicting a squatter in a house. What are squatter rights and TN squatter laws?

Can’t I Just Kick the Squatters Out?

A frequent question we receive at Sell My House Fast is whether or not a homeowner or property manager can kick a squatter out. Plenty of people around are more than happy to use some scare tactics and force the person making a claim to get the heck out of there – or else!

The problem with this is that it quickly steps into legally gray areas when it comes to TN squatter laws. What you think is perfectly reasonable can be considered breaking the law, and it is not advisable as it may get you into an even worse situation.

The entire reason for squatter rights is to ensure people are safe and properties stay good shape. Dealing with any squatters is always better the sooner you can address the issue.

However, if you try to forcibly remove squatters, you are likely to be breaking the law. That is the job of law enforcement officials. Consult with professionals like our team who understand the nuances of what is ok and not ok.

In most cases, you’ll have to follow the same eviction TN squatter laws that other areas follow. That includes:

  • Issuing a 14-day notice of non-payment of rent. Even if there is no agreement, you are showing you expect to be paid for them occupying your land or property.
  • A no-lease or end-of-lease notice tells them they have to leave. Either a 10-day notice for week-to-week tenants or a 30-day notice for monthly or yearly tenants.
  • Health and safety violations because the home is not fit for occupancy.
  • Illegal activity notice telling people they have 3 days to get out or law enforcement will step in.

Even with these notices, things can get pretty hairy due to TN squatter laws. That is why it is always better to use some preventative measures first.

Top Ways to Prevent Squatters in TN

The best way to stop any issues of squatter rights from happening to your local property is to proactively prevent their occupancy. You can do this by working inside the law and ensuring your land and home remain yours and no one else’s.

#1 – Pay All Property Taxes on Time

A court looks at property tax payment as one of the foundational arguments as to who should own the property. You can prevent squatters from staking a claim by keeping up on tax payments so no one else can make an adverse claim.

#2 – Make Regular Visits

Abandoned properties are highly attractive to urban explorers and squatters. Even something out in the middle of nowhere will soon become an off-the-book squatter hotel if not regularly checked on by the owner. If you are regularly seen visiting your home, there is less likely a chance someone will think they can get inside.

#3 – Turn Off All Amenities

You never want to be paying for someone else’s electric or water bill. If the property isn’t going to be in use, turn off any extra amenities that are not necessary to run the property. That will help avoid squatter rights because they won’t think the location is attractive to live in.

#4 – Tell the Neighbors

If you are going to let a home be on its own for a while, tell the neighbors. Let them know you don’t plan to use the property for a bit, and give them an accurate phone number, email, or address to contact if they see any suspicious activity. Odds are, they don’t want squatters on the property either.

#5 – Make it Looked Lived in

One of the best anti-squatter rights tactics is to maintain the property’s exterior. Keep a single light working in the kitchen, make sure the grass looks good and entry is welcoming, and even toss up a few Christmas lights around the holidays.

#6 – Reinforce Boundaries

Many long-term squatters like to claim parcels of land they’ve maintained for years. What you thought was your property suddenly gets taken over by someone else because they’ve cultivated corn or mowed that grass for years. Make sure your boundaries are clear so there is no question about who owns that property.

#7 – Rent the Space

If you do have a property that is rentable – do it! Instead of worrying about squatters, you can pay a property manager to rent and maintain the home so you earn a little side income, and no one can claim squatter rights behind your back.

Final Thoughts

Even with all those preventative measures, you can still find your Tennessee home or property on the wrong end of TN squatter laws. Trust us, you don’t want to deal with the headache of squatter rights while also trying to build a career, spend time with family, or enjoy a little relaxation now and then.

That is why many homeowners in our area reach out to our team at Sell My House Fast. We buy houses for cash in any condition. Instead of dealing with squatter rights, you get a fair cash offer on your property, and we manage the rest. Reach out today and save yourself time, money, and stress by selling your property to Sell My House Fast!

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