Minnesota Squatter Laws

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If you’re a Minnesota property owner, it’s important to review the squatter laws in your state. Under Minnesota law, a squatter can claim possession of a property after 15 years of continuous residence and five years of property tax payment. 
It can be any homeowner’s worst nightmare to deal with a squatter on their property. Unfortunately, with the rising homeless population in Minnesota, the risk of finding an unwelcome visitor on your property increases by the day. As such, it’s important to understand what rights squatters actually have and how best to prevent them from possessing your home.
To keep your property safe from squatters, Jerry, the super app that saves you time and money on your home and car insurance, has created a guide to squatter laws in Minnesota. To keep you in the know, we’ll detail the differences between squatting and trespassing, outline adverse possession claims, and give tips for protecting yourself and your property from squatters.
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Who’s considered a squatter in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, a squatter is any person that resides on an area or property that’s unoccupied, foreclosed, or abandoned, without lawful permission. 
Nevertheless, squatting can be perfectly legal

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

Is squatting considered trespassing? Under the law, the two differ.
If an individual enters an occupied property without permission, it’s considered criminal trespassing, whereas if an individual resides on an abandoned property without any indication they’re unwelcome, it can be perfectly legal. 
Further, squatters tend to stay on a designated property for an extended period and pay taxes, to eventually claim ownership, while trespassers tend to conceal their occupation and only stay for a short period.
Holdover tenants, on the other hand, refer to those individuals who refuse to leave a rented property after their lease has ended or is terminated. While a landlord can evict such individuals without any notice, they can also continue to accept rent payments from the tenant. In these cases, individuals are not considered criminal trespassers, but tenants at will

Adverse possession laws in Minnesota 

Adverse possession laws often referred to as “squatters’ rights”, provide a legal doctrine for individuals who inhabit property that they don’t own. 
Under these laws, squatters may be granted legal ownership over a property if they have been occupying the property for a certain amount of time and have met the following required conditions.  

Hostile possession

To make an adverse possession claim in Minnesota, a squatter must make a ‘hostile’ claim to the land. While hostile typically means aggressive, in the case of adverse possession, it doesn’t. Rather, it can mean any of the following definitions:
  • The simple occupation of a building or a piece of land, wherein the person squatting is not necessarily aware that the property belongs to someone else.
  • The squatter indeed knows that they are occupying someone else’s property.
  • The squatter isn’t aware that the document they are relying on to prove their legal possession is incorrect or invalid.

Active possession

Squatters must actively maintain the property to meet the requirements of a claim. Accordingly, squatters must treat the property as their own and regularly perform repairs, landscaping, or property improvements

Open and notorious possession

A squatter cannot hide that they are living on the property. It must be apparent to neighbors, the property owner, and the general public that the squatter is occupying the property.

Exclusive possession

For the law to recognize a possession claim, the squatter must not share occupancy with any other squatter, tenant, or property owner. In addition, the squatter must be the only one with property tax payment records. 

Continuous possession

Finally, and most importantly, to meet the claim requirements, the squatter must reside on the property continuously for fifteen years. If the individual leaves the property for weeks or months during that time, the claim will be invalidated under Minnesota law.
Key Takeaway To make an adverse possession claim in Minnesota, a squatter needs to reside on a property continuously for fifteen years and pay at least five years of property taxes. 

Does Minnesota honor color of title claims?

A color of title claim refers to instances wherein property ownership is granted to individuals with defective or invalid claims to property. In such cases, having this type of documentation can reduce the required continuous occupation time. 
For example, an owner may be missing the required legal documentation but can be granted adverse possession if there is documentation to demonstrate that the individual acted in good faith. 
While many states do honor this claim to property, Minnesota is not one of them. Squatters must provide all necessary documentation to have a claim recognized. 

How to protect yourself from squatters

To protect yourself and your property from the legal challenges that squatters may bring, follow these tips:
  • Secure your property’s entrances, windows, and doors with locks and an alarm system.
  • Regularly inspect the vacant property
  • Fence off your property to deter trespassers.
  • Call the police at any sign of unwelcome visitors on your property.
  • Indicate that squatters will not be tolerated by posting “no trespassing” signs.
  • Evict any squatters from your property.
  • Pretend someone is home, even if the property is vacant. You can do this by closing curtains and blinds and having timed lights turn on sporadically.

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FAQs

Unless a squatter has a rental agreement, landowners can file an eviction notice immediately. If a landowner is dealing with a tenant at will or a tenant who has failed to make a rent payment, the landowner must submit a notice and wait 14 days to file an eviction with the courts.
To gain legal ownership of a property in Minnesota, squatters must pay property taxes for five years.
If squatters do not fulfill the requirements for an adverse possession claim, they can be arrested for trespassing. Further, if a property owner has made it known that the squatters are unwelcome on the property and they continue to trespass, they can be criminally charged.

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