New Jersey Squatter Laws

Squatters in New Jersey have legal avenues to claim the right and title of a property through adverse possession laws.
Written by Abbey Orzech
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Squatters in
New Jersey
can make a legal claim to a property after a 30-year period of maintenance and improvement if they’ve paid property taxes for the preceding five consecutive years. 
Most people in the United States conjure up an image of illegality when talking about squatters, but there are actually legal avenues that allow squatters limited rights to the property they inhabit. These adverse possession laws can be beneficial to those who don’t have access to stable housing, but they can also create problems for property owners. 
To help you understand squatter laws in New Jersey,
, the
super app
car insurance
, has created this guide that sorts through the legal jargon of squatting, squatters, and adverse possession laws.
Let Jerry find you the best homeowners insurance policy for your needs
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score
Shop Now
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score

Who’s considered a squatter in New Jersey?

New Jersey defines “squatter” as anyone who takes up full-time residence in an unoccupied or abandoned property without the lawful owner’s permission. 
Squatting and trespassing are often thought of as the same action, but the U.S. government has defined squatter’s rights since 1862, conferring limited legality to squatting. 

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

Some of the differences between squatting, trespassing, and being a holdover tenant may be a bit nuanced, so let’s go over the defining characteristics. 
Squatting is the action of permanently residing on someone else’s property, typically without the owner’s permission or a legal title. The property in question is unoccupied or abandoned, and the squatter has no signs or warnings telling them they can’t stay there. 
An act is called trespassing when someone moves onto a property that is inhabited without the permission of the lawful owner and there are signs or other warnings making it clear they are not welcome
Holdover tenants are defined as tenants that have stayed in a property after their lease, or legal contract of residence expires. Holdover tenants could be charged with trespassing or charged double their initial rent, depending on whether the landlord will allow them to stay.

Adverse possession laws in New Jersey

Adverse possession laws, also known as continuous trespassers’ rights or squatters’ rights provisions, allow a person to make a legal claim on an unoccupied or abandoned property that they have been inhabiting for a certain amount of time. 
In New Jersey, that amount of time is 30 years for any real estate or 60 years for any unclaimed and uncultivated woods or pieces of land. 
To be considered for adverse possession, the squatter will have to meet all of the following criteria:

Hostile possession

Hostile possession is any possession of a property that was inhabited without permission from the legal owner. It covers squatters that knew someone else owned the property and squatters that did not (who maybe got conned into a fake rent agreement). 

Active possession

Active possession protects squatters that maintain an active residence in which they are physically present and use it as a home. This possession is invoked if the inhabitants are making improvements and repairs to the property while they are living in it. 

Open and notorious possession

The possession is open and notorious if the squatters are living on the property in an obvious and public way. This means they are not hiding their residency, and neighbors or passersby (or the owner) can tell that someone is living there. 

Exclusive possession

Exclusive possession means that the squatter(s) has been maintaining their occupation of a property as their own—not sharing or splitting it with other people. 
Squatting groups often form, but if there is no clear “owner,” you will not be able to prove exclusive possession. 

Continuous possession

Squatters can claim continuous possession if they or their lineage have been living on a property for a continuous amount of time specified by state law.
In New Jersey, a squatter has to maintain residence on a real estate property for 30 years or on an uncultivated and unclaimed property for 60 years while paying property taxes for the five most recent years before they can make a successful adverse possession claim. 
Key Takeaway An adverse possession claim in New Jersey requires 30 to 60 years of continuous residence, demonstrable use or improvement of the property, and five years of paying property taxes. 

Does New Jersey honor color of title claims?

A “color of title” claim refers to claims made on a property with only partial or incomplete paperwork regarding the legal title. 
New Jersey does honor color of title claims as long as you can prove 30 years of continuous possession of a piece of real estate. 

How to protect yourself from squatters

Squatters have their own rights and legal protections in New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean property owners are helpless to stop their properties from being taken. Here are a few tips to protect yourself from squatters:
  • Visit often: Regular visits to your unoccupied properties will help you to spot signs of squatting early. If you’re unable to visit with any regularity, ask a neighbor to keep their eyes on the place.  
  • Install added security: A few extra security measures can stop squatters in their tracks. Try adding steel fittings around door frames or installing alarms. You’ll also want to make sure there are no potential points of entry you didn’t intend to be there: check for vandalism or holes in the roof. 
  • Post “no trespassing” signs: What turns trespassing into squatting is the lack of obvious deterrents. By posting “no trespassing signs,” you’ll be making it clear that it is illegal to enter your property uninvited. 
If you do notice that there are squatters on your property, you have a couple of options. You could provide a written notice asking them to vacate your property, serve them an eviction notice, get the police involved, or even offer to rent out the property to them. 
If they make a claim on the property, though, you will need to handle that through the appropriate legal channels. 

How to find affordable home and car insurance in New Jersey 

To protect yourself and your belongings from unpredictable events in New Jersey, you’ll want to make sure your home and
auto insurance
covers all your bases and is within your budget. 
Unlike most legal jargon, the insurance comparison app
is straightforward and easy to use. 
It’s this simple: download the Jerry app or go to In less than 45 seconds, Jerry collects all of your information from your existing insurer. 
Choose from competitive quotes from top insurance companies and Jerry takes care of the rest—securing your new policy and helping you cancel your old one upon request.
is a super straightforward process, and at each step, you can see exactly what coverage you’re paying for. Thanks to Jerry, I’m paying $900 less each year while keeping full coverage for my new car!” —Martin H.
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms
Find insurance savings


It is ultimately up to the owner of the property to remove squatters if they do not want them there. In order for a squatter to have a legal claim on a property in New Jersey, they will have to occupy it for at least 30 years.
Not necessarily. 
If squatters wish to make a legal claim on their unofficial place of residence, they will have had to have been paying property taxes for the immediately previous five years in order to be considered. If they do not wish to make a legal claim, they are not obligated to pay property taxes.
If there are clear signs that the home in question is owned by someone else but is just unoccupied, then the initial squatting is illegal. 
However, if someone publicly squats in a home for a sufficient amount of time and makes improvements and repairs during their time there, legal avenues are open for them to claim the home as their own.
Save an average of 18% by bundling your home and auto insurance
Bundle your home and auto insurance with Jerry and save!
Try Jerry

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings