Kansas Squatter Laws

Kansas squatter laws allow an individual to make an adverse possession claim if they live on, maintain, and pay taxes on an unoccupied property for 15 years.
Written by Bee Davis
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Squatters in Kansas can file for an adverse possession claim after 15 years of continuous residence, use, and maintenance– but they must have paid property taxes for that entire time. 
While squatting carries a negative connotation in the U.S, it's not technically illegal. Squatter laws are meant to protect unhoused people, but they can be a legal headache for property owners. 
If you’re curious about squatter laws in Kansas, look no further.
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Who’s considered a squatter in Kansas?

Squatting refers to staying in an abandoned, unoccupied, or foreclosed property without the owner’s permission. It can be a headache for property owners, but it’s not technically illegal. 
Since the 1850s, the Federal Government has passed laws protecting an unhoused person’s right to seek shelter in unoccupied buildings. These laws also distinguish squatting and trespassing, and it’s important to understand the difference.

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

Squatting becomes trespassing when the owner has posted signage against trespassing or directly asked them to leave. If a person has no reason to believe they’re unwelcome on the property, it’s legal for them to stay.
This only applies to unoccupied or abandoned properties. If someone moves into your house while you’re still living there, that is definitely illegal. 
If tenants stay past their lease without another signed document, they are considered holdover tenants. Staying past your lease may sound like trespassing, but if the tenant continues to pay rent and the owner agrees, they’re not an illegal trespasser. 

Adverse possession laws in Kansas 

Kansas law allows squatters to make an adverse possession claim under certain circumstances. An adverse possession claim allows the property to be transferred from the owner’s name to the squatter’s. Here are the requirements for making an adverse possession claim in the state of Kansas. 

Hostile possession

Hostile possession may sound aggressive, but it really just means living on a property without permission from the owner. This could mean that a trespasser is aware that they’re on someone else's property, but it also covers cases where they may be unaware their presence is unlawful.

Active possession

To file an adverse possession claim, a person must prove that they’ve used the property in the same way that the owner would. This means the squatter must take care of the maintenance, landscaping, routine repairs, and other issues. 
This proves that the squatter has maintained an active residency on the property. 

Open and notorious possession

A person must be living openly on the property to file a claim. If they’ve been hiding on the property or living in a way where their presence might not be obvious, their claim doesn't count.

Exclusive possession

While squatting can often be a group activity, an individual must be the only resident of the space to file a claim. This means that a group of squatters cannot claim possession of the property, even if they’ve met the other requirements. 

Continuous possession

In the state of Kansas, squatters must be living on a property and paying taxes on it for at least 15 successive years. This is a big one: without proof of paid taxes, a squatter has no claim to the land. 
Key Takeaway An adverse possession claim requires 15 years of continuous residence with property taxes paid for that entire length of time.

Does Kansas honor color of title claims?

You may have heard of “color of title” claims before. Color of title means that the person filing an adverse possession claim lacks the required paperwork, usually a deed or title to the land
In Kansas, squatters can file for adverse possession with color of title, but they still have to wait 15 years and pay taxes the entire time

How to protect yourself from squatters

While squatting is legal, it can cause trouble for property owners. The security risks involved with hosting squatters can be a legal liability. Here are some tips for keeping squatters off an unoccupied property. 
  • Visit often: If you’re away from your property for long periods, it’s easier for squatters to take possession. 
  • Install locks and alarms: If you’re not living on your property full-time, a decent security system and locks on all windows and doors can prevent unwanted entry. 
  • Post “no trespassing” signs: Remember, establishing that squatters are unwelcome can prevent a lawful adverse possession claim. 
  • Pay property taxes promptly: Because property taxes are an essential ingredient for any adverse possession claim, paying your taxes on time can prevent others from laying claim to your property. 
  • Restrict roof access: If any part of your property is accessible from the roof, it may be a good idea to make sure nobody can get up there and break in. 
If you’re having issues with squatters on your property, your first move is to ask them to leave. You can post signage against trespassing or speak to them directly. Either way, that’s when your guests become trespassers.
If they resist, you can offer to rent the property to them if they have the means. In extreme cases, you may have to involve local law enforcement if squatters continue to cause problems for you. 

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Technically, squatters in Kansas can stay until they are explicitly told to leave. But to file an adverse possession claim, a squatter must live on a property and pay taxes on it for at least 15 consecutive years.
If they want to file an adverse possession claim, yes, they must pay taxes on the property for at least 15 years. Otherwise, it’s not required that squatters pay property taxes.
Not if the home is unoccupied! Squatting is only illegal when the home is either lawfully occupied by someone else, or the owner has posted signage against trespassing.
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