Nebraska Squatter Laws

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Understanding Nebraska's specific squatter laws can be very important if you own property in this state. Under Nebraska's adverse possession law, squatters can make a legal claim on a property after 10 continuous years of inhabiting and improving it.
When you think of squatting on someone else’s property, you probably don’t think of it as a legal practice. Contrary to popular belief, it is in fact perfectly legal if all the necessary conditions are met. 
Super-app and home and car insurance broker Jerry is here to give you a closer look at Nebraska’s squatter laws. We’ll go over the basics of squatting’s legality, adverse possession claim requirements, and how to protect your property from squatters in the Cornhusker State. 
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Who’s considered a squatter in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, a squatter is considered to be an individual who openly inhabits and improves a neglected piece of property.
The US government has been passing legislation and defining squatter’s evolving rights since the 1850s. These laws were created to provide clear distinctions on what makes squatting legal while trespassing is illegal. 

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

In essence, the main difference between squatting and trespassing is whether the property is occupied and whether the owner has established that squatters are unwelcome. 
Trespassing is the illegal act of taking residence on occupied land without permission and any claim to the land. 
To legally protect yourself against trespassers, post clear signs prohibiting anyone from entering your property—criminal trespassing can be charged to any person that ignores these signs. If the land is unoccupied, however, and the owner has not clearly expressed that outsiders are not welcome, the trespassing charge against them might not carry any weight.
Both of these situations are different than situations with holdover tenants. These are tenants who do not leave a property they were renting after their lease has terminated. They can become a tenant at will if the landlord lets the tenant continue to live there and make rent payments. 
If the landlord orders the tenant to leave, however, the tenant will have no rights to an adverse possession claim and will be considered a criminal trespasser instead. 

Adverse possession laws in Nebraska

Nebraska adverse possession law permits squatters to make a legal claim on someone else’s property if certain requirements are met.
Individuals who publicly inhabit and improve a neglected piece of property for 10 continuous years may gain legal title to the parcel. These laws can help provide a legal title in the absence of official homeownership records.

Actual possession

A squatter has the right to make an adverse possession claim if they are physically present on the property and actually using it. They must be living and using the property as its owner would, and keep up with regular maintenance like washing and landscaping.

Hostile possession

Hostile possession does not mean the property was overtaken maliciously. Instead, it is when land is claimed despite no permission being granted by the owner. This also covers “simple” or “good faith” occupation—cases when the squatter doesn’t realize their occupancy is illegal. 

Continuous possession

The squatter’s possession of the law cannot be divided into intermittent periods—they must be continuously on the property for 10 years. During those 10 years, they must pay any property taxes levied against the land and provide sustained improvement of it.

Open and notorious possession

The squatter must not attempt to hide his or her occupancy of the property from the owner. Trying to hide their possession of the property will result in a failed adverse possession claim.

Exclusive possession

Adverse possession claims can only be established if the property is occupied by one person. A claim cannot be made if the land is shared or occupancy is divided amongst multiple people. The property can also not be shared with its lawful owner.

Does Nebraska honor color of title claims?

Color of title refers to irregular ownership of the property—mostly resulting in the owner missing some of their documentation. Color of title is not required to make an adverse possession claim in Nebraska, and will not reduce the required 10 years of continuous possession.

How to protect yourself from squatters

Nebraska does grant legal rights to squatters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself and your property. These simple steps can help you alleviate any legal challenges squatters may throw your way:
  • Inspect regularly: Visiting and inspecting your property regularly will deter squatters, and help you catch any quickly.
  • Security: Installing locks and alarms is a great idea for owners who are not frequently on-site.
  • “No trespassing” signage: Another effective method for those who don’t occupy their property. If squatters choose to enter your property with clear signs posted, they become criminal trespassers.
  • Call the sheriff: If you feel you have covered all your bases and squatters still will not leave, call your sheriff to have any individuals removed from your property.
In Nebraska, you must file a formal civil eviction to remove a squatter from your property. To do this you first provide a Five-Day Notice to Quit, ordering the squatter to pay rent or vacate. If the squatter does not abide, then you serve a Petition for Restitution with your district or county clerk. 
Once a judge grants the eviction, a Writ of Restitution will be issued. Only a sheriff can serve this notice, so be sure to call law enforcement to ensure these matters are handled legally. The squatter will then have 10 days to leave or they will be forcibly removed

How to find affordable home and car insurance in Nebraska

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FAQs

In Nebraska, continuous occupancy of 10 years is necessary to legally claim it. Occupying this property must be transparent, exclusive, and follow all the requirements established under Nebraska law.
The landowner must file a formal civil eviction. There are several different notices you can file depending on your exact situation. After proper notice has been given, the courts can grant permission for eviction and the sheriff will take it from there.

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