Mississippi Squatter Laws

Mississippi squatter laws allow an individual to make an adverse possession claim if they live on, maintain, and pay taxes on an unoccupied property for 20 years.
Written by Kara Vanderbeek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If you own property in
, it’s a good idea to brush up on the squatter laws in your state. Under Mississippi law, squatters can claim adverse possession of a property after ten years of continuous occupation and two years of property tax payment.
Contrary to popular belief, squatting is not always illegal, and in some cases, it can even lead to a legal property title change. While this might be a positive piece of information for those without stable housing, it can bring about legal challenges for property owners.
To help you brush up on your knowledge on squatting and trespassing,
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Who’s considered a squatter in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, squatting refers to the occupation of an abandoned, unoccupied, or foreclosed property without legal permission. Squatters, who have no ownership of such property, do not pay rent. 
Nevertheless, squatting is common throughout the United States. Since the 1850s, the US government has passed laws in an attempt to define the rights of squatters. Under these laws, legal squatting is distinguished from illegal trespassing. 

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

So what exactly is the difference between squatting and trespassing?
While trespassing can be criminally charged, squatting can only be treated as an illegal offense if the landowner has established that the person is unwelcome on the property.
To avoid a criminal charge, trespassers often attempt to claim their right to property by presenting false documentation or deeds, which is always illegal
Squatters should also be distinguished from holdover tenants, who are individuals that have failed to evict a property at the termination of their lease. These tenants may continue to pay rent, which, if accepted by the landlord, would classify these individuals as “tenants at will”. Put simply, these tenants are on the property at the will of the landlord and can be evicted at any time. 
While squatters can make an adverse possession claim to gain legal ownership over a property, a tenant who refuses to evict a property cannot and will be classified as a criminal trespasser.

Adverse possession laws in Mississippi

Adverse possession refers to a method of acquiring legal title to the property. Under adverse possession law or “squatters’ rights”, Mississippi squatters may be granted legal ownership over a property if they have been continuously possessing the land for 10 years and have met the required conditions.
If a squatter meets all of the required conditions, they will be granted legal permission to remain on that property and will no longer be considered a criminal trespasser. 
The five legal requirements that the squatter must meet include:

Hostile claim

To meet the requirement of a hostile claim, the squatter’s occupation must be without permission and against the right of the true owner. In most cases, squatters are aware that the property belongs to someone else, but this claim also includes “good faith” cases in which the individual doesn’t realize their occupation is illegal.

Actual possession

To claim actual possession, the trespasser must treat their property as their own and make physical (and visible) use of the property. Any landscaping or maintenance documentation can be helpful evidence in establishing a claim. 

Open and notorious possession

To meet the requirements for an open and notorious claim, it must be obvious to others that the squatter has occupied the property. Any attempts to conceal the fact that they are living there limit the squatter's ability to make an adverse possession claim.

Exclusive possession 

The squatter must be the sole possessor of the land. If the land is shared between multiple squatters or tenants, the claim won’t be recognized.

Continuous possession

Most notably, to meet the adverse possession requirements, a squatter must occupy the property for 10 uninterrupted years. If the squatter vacates the property and returns to it within the continuous possession period, the law will not recognize it as continuous possession. In Mississippi, squatters must also pay taxes for two of those years.
Key Takeaway In Mississippi, an adverse possession claim requires ten years of continuous residence, use, or improvement of the property, along with two years of property taxes. 

Does Mississippi honor color of title claims?

Individuals may be granted property ownership titles if they do not have the proper documents or registrations under “color of title” claims. 
Mississippi honors color of title claims if all of the following circumstances are met: 
  • The legal property owner fails to pay taxes for five years 
  • A squatter purchases the property’s tax title
  • Two years following the tax sale, the squatter possesses the land under the laws of actual possession (they are physically present for three years)
  • The squatter then buys the property title
MORE: Mississippi renters insurance

How to protect yourself from squatters

You can protect yourself and your property from the legal challenges that squatters may bring by following these tips:
  • Regularly inspect the property
  • Secure the property’s entrances, windows, and doors with locks and alarm systems
  • Pay your property taxes on time
  • Put “no trespassing” signs on your property
If you do come across an unwelcome squatter on your property, you can take the following steps:
  • Serve a written eviction notice as soon as possible
  • Call the sheriff to remove squatters from your property
  • If needed, hire legal counsel to get the squatter off your property

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To make an adverse possession claim, squatters must stay on the property for ten years, improve the property, and pay property taxes for two years.
To gain legal ownership of a property in Mississippi, squatters must pay property taxes for two 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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