Utah Squatter Laws

In Utah, if someone lives in a property, maintains it, and pays property taxes for 7 years, they can make an adverse possession claim under Utah squatters laws.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Property owners in
need to be well-versed in squatter laws to avoid any adverse possession claims on their property. An adverse possession claim can be made by anyone that continuously lives in and pays taxes on a property for 7 years. 
When squatting is mentioned, most think of people trespassing on someone’s property and refusing to leave. However, most states have laws about squatting, including cases where it’s legal to do. For property owners, squatters can become a big problem if not handled correctly.
That’s why
, the
home insurance
super app
, put together this guide on navigating squatters laws in Utah. We’ll walk you through the laws surrounding what constitutes squatting and trespassing, how squatters can make adverse possession claims, and how to protect your property from squatters.
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Who’s considered a squatter in Utah?

A person is considered a squatter in Utah if they live in an unoccupied property without the permission of the property’s rightful owner.
The US government has laws concerning the difference between squatters and trespassers, which is important for any property owner dealing with those issues.

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

Anyone occupying a property (apart from renters with a current lease or homeowners) may fall within the following three categories: trespassers, holdover tenants, or squatters.
Trespassing occurs when someone takes up residence (without permission) in a property that is already clearly occupied or in an area clearly marked with “no trespassing signs,” and they’ve been informed they are not welcome on the property. 
However, if the property appears abandoned and the occupant has no clear way of knowing they aren’t welcome on the property, they’ll be considered a squatter—making trespassing harder to prove.
Holdover tenants are tenants that remain in a property after their lease expires. If the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord can file trespassing charges. However, if the tenant continues to pay rent and the landlord accepts the rent payments, the occupant becomes a tenant at will. 

Adverse possession laws in Utah 

Squatters in Utah can legally claim someone else's property under adverse possession laws. If a squatter occupies a property for seven years, pays property taxes the whole time, and maintains and improves the property, they have a strong adverse possession claim.
In addition, anyone making an adverse possession claim also needs to meet these requirements:

Actual Occupation

In Utah, a squatter must actually live on the property they’re trying to claim continuously for seven years. During that time, they must have made improvements to the property or beautified the property in some way. 

Simple Occupation

Simple Occupation falls under the legal definition of “hostile claim.” In this case, “hostile” simply means occupying, not mean or aggressive. With simple occupation, the squatter doesn’t necessarily have to know the property they’re occupying belongs to someone else. 

Open and notorious possession

To make an adverse possession claim, squatters have to be openly living on the property. Anyone, including the property owner, should be able to tell someone is living there. If the occupant attempts to conceal the fact that they’re living on the property, their claim will be thrown out. 

Exclusive possession

To have exclusive possession of the property, a squatter cannot be sharing it with anyone else. This means that a group of people can’t be living on the property together, and the squatter can’t be sharing possession with the property owner. 

Continuous possession

Lastly, a squatter must be able to prove they have continuously lived at the property for seven years without any gaps in possession. They must also be able to prove they’ve paid all property taxes for those seven years. 
Key Takeaway Any adverse possession claim in Utah needs proof that someone has continuously lived on the property for seven years, maintained and improved it, and paid all property taxes for those seven years. 

Does Utah honor color of title claims?

In some cases, states will honor “color of title” claims, meaning squatters don’t have to provide complete paperwork with their adverse possession claim. 
Utah recognizes “color of title” claims if someone meets all the other requirements for an adverse possession claim. 
MORE: Utah renters insurance

How to protect yourself from squatters

If you own property in Utah, there are ways you can protect your property from squatters so you don’t get caught up in a legal battle. Here are some tips for discouraging squatters:
  • Visit your property. Squatters in Utah have to clearly and openly live in a property to make an adverse possession claim. If you visit your property often, you can catch any squatters that might be occupying it. 
  • Install a security system. If you can’t visit your property often, a security system will alert you if anyone enters your property without permission.
  • Post clear trespassing warnings. If squatters are unaware that they’re trespassing, they’ll have a stronger adverse possession claim.
  • Pay property taxes. If you pay taxes on your property on time every year, a squatter can’t claim that they’ve been in possession of the property. 
If you do happen to find squatters on your property, you do have some options to get them to leave. In Utah, property owners have to go through the judicial eviction process. First, they must serve the squatter a 5-Day Notice to Quit which gives them five days to leave before more actions can be taken. 
If the squatter does not leave after five days, property owners can file an eviction with their county court. The squatter will be given a final notice to vacate before local law enforcement can forcibly remove them
Keep in mind that you cannot do anything to try and force squatters off your property. This includes actions like changing the locks or shutting off utilities. 

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Technically, squatters in Utah can occupy a property indefinitely as long as they don’t know the property is owned by someone and they haven’t been told by the owner to leave. To legally claim ownership of a property, a squatter has to live in the property continuously for 7 years and pay all property taxes.
Yes. If a squatter wants to legally claim a property they’ve been occupying, they have to pay property taxes continuously for at least 7 years.
Not necessarily. In Utah, if you’re unaware that the property is owned by someone else and you haven’t been warned to vacate, squatting isn’t illegal. However, if you know the property is owned by someone and you’ve been told to leave, that constitutes unlawful trespassing.
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