BACK

  • Landlord
  • Tenant
Squatter's Rights

Ohio Squatter’s Rights

December 30, 2023

We’d love to connect with you.

Squatters In Ohio

Squatters – those mysterious figures who move into abandoned or vacant properties – have long been a subject of curiosity and confusion for property owners. Many people wonder—and fear—how squatters sometimes gain legal ownership and claim legal title of the property they’ve occupied.  

Squatters’ rights exist in various forms across the United States, including Ohio. The requirements for claiming these rights vary from state to state, making it essential to understand the specific laws in your area. The squatters rights Ohio provides differ from those provided in other states. 

While you can feel comforted that it is notoriously difficult for a squatter to fulfill all the requirements necessary to make a successful legal claim to your property, it never hurts to be prepared. In this article, we’ll cover squatter’s rights in Ohio and explain how adverse possession laws work in this state. 

Overview 

  • Minimum Occupation Required: 21 consecutive years 
  • Property Taxes Required? No 
  • Color of Title Required? No 

Who Are Squatters? 

A squatter is someone who occupies a property without legal ownership or permission from the property owner. They often move into vacant, abandoned, or neglected properties. Squatters could squat temporarily (e.g., for a few weeks) or for years at a time.  

While the term “squatter” probably summons a certain image in your mind, it’s important to note that not all squatters have nefarious intentions. A squatter could be someone who thought they legally owned a property that has been passed down in their family over many generations, only to find out years later that the title officially belongs to someone else. 

Who Isn’t a Squatter? 

Not everyone who occupies or enters a property without permission is a squatter. For instance, tenants with expired leases are not squatters. Rather, they are “holdover tenants,” or previous tenants who no longer have the right to live in the property. Likewise, trespassers are also not squatters. Criminal trespassers are people who enter onto your private property but do not live there, while squatters actually occupy and live on the vacant property. 

What Are Squatters Rights/Adverse Possession? 

Squatter’s rights, also known as adverse possession, refer to the general legal principles that allow squatters to gain ownership of a property through a long period of possession, even without the permission of the property owner. While squatter’s rights might seem antiquated today, the principles of adverse possession were established to reward the productive use of land and discourage neglect of properties.  

There is no federal law governing squatter’s rights, but there are legal precedents for them in each state and laws governing some of the requirements to claim adverse possession. 

Ohio Squatters Rights 

To make a successful claim for adverse possession in Ohio, a squatter must meet the following criteria as per Ohio Rev. Code Ann § 2305.04

  • Occupy the property for at least 21 consecutive years. 

In some states, squatters are also required to pay property taxes or have what’s called “color of title” before they can file a valid adverse possession claim. Color of title refers to nontraditional ownership of land, usually without an official deed, legal title, or other required documents. Neither color of title nor proof that they pay property taxes are required for adverse possession in Ohio; nor will having either reduce the minimum occupation time of 21 years. The 21-year occupation period is a firm requirement for squatter’s rights in Ohio. 

However, if the squatter shows evidence of either of these (having color of title or paying property taxes) in court, it may strengthen their legal case and increase the chances that the court rules in their favor. 

Squatters in Ohio (and all other states) must also meet five general requirements: 

  1. Hostile/Adverse Possession—The squatter must not have a valid lease or rental agreement with the owner.  
  1. Actual Possession—The squatter must have actively lived in the property for a certain length of time.  
  1. Open and Notorious Possession—The squatter’s possession of the property is open and obvious to neighbors or anyone else. They aren’t living there “in secret” or trying to hide their presence.  
  1. Exclusive Possession—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else. They prevent others from living there like an owner would.  
  1. Continuous Possession—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession of the property for 21 consecutive years 

How Does a Squatter Claim Adverse Possession in Ohio? 

If a squatter in Ohio has fulfilled both the requirements for Ohio squatter’s rights and the general squatter’s rights principles above, they can file a claim for adverse possession or bring an action to “quiet title.” Quiet title is the legal action to claim the right of possession and ownership of a particular property. 

Note, however, that just because a squatter files a claim, this does not mean they will be successful. There are many obstacles to winning an adverse possession case—for instance, the squatter would need to: 

  • Gather ample evidence for their claim (e.g., mail addressed to the property in their name, property tax receipts, evidence that they’ve “beautified” the property, etc.) 
  • File a quiet title complaint with Ohio’s court system 
  • Attend a hearing with the property owner in front of a judge, where they’ll present their case for adverse possession  
  • Successfully convince a judge that they have fulfilled all the state requirements for adverse possession as per Ohio law 
  • Receive a judgment for adverse possession to perfect the title 

As you can see, squatters in Ohio have an enormous burden of proof when claiming ownership of your property. It is a highly complex process that often requires the squatter to hire an attorney and to have lived in your property for many years. In all likelihood, a squatter situation you’re involved in won’t escalate to a successful action to quiet title. 

How to Remove a Squatter in Ohio 

In Ohio, as in almost all other states, removing a squatter necessitates the full eviction process. Treating the squatter like any other tenant ensures that any adverse possession Ohio claim they file is invalid. If you find out that a squatter is living in your property, you need to provide proper notice, file a formal eviction complaint in court, and attend (or get your attorney to attend) a hearing to lawfully remove the squatter. 

Here is an overview of the Ohio eviction process for squatters: 

  1. The landowner must serve a formal eviction notice. Depending on the reason for eviction, any of the following notices may apply: 
    • A three-day pay-or-quit notice (for nonpayment of rent) 
    • A 30-day cure-or-quit notice (for lease violations affecting health and safety) 
    • A three-day quit notice (for illegal drug activity) 
      1. Following the eviction notice period, the landowner can file a complaint for eviction with either the Ohio County Court, Municipal Court, or Court of Common Pleas.  
      1. The court will issue a summons to be served to the squatter in Ohio by the sheriff or other authorized process server. 
      1. Both parties must attend a court hearing to present evidence of lawful ownership.  
      1. If the court confirms the landowner’s lawful ownership, the landowner may request that they issue a writ of execution, which gives the squatter up to ten days to move out. 
      1. If the squatter has not moved out by the day specified on the writ, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove them. 

      Remember that police officers cannot remove squatters—you must call the sheriff, who has the appropriate jurisdiction to remove the squatter. 

      How to Prevent Squatters from Living in Your Vacant Ohio Property 

      Here are a few practical tips to prevent squatters from moving into your vacant property and attempting to claim squatter’s rights in Ohio: 

      • Regularly inspect your property. 
      • Make your property appear inhabited during vacancy periods. 
      • Install adequate lighting and security systems to deter unauthorized entry. 
      • Secure all doors, windows, and access points with sturdy locks and barriers. 
      • Post “No Trespassing” signs on the property. 
      • Encourage neighbors to report any suspicious activity. 
      • Consider hiring a property management company to oversee and maintain the property. 
      • If feasible, keep the property in use, even if temporarily, to discourage squatting. 
      • Develop a good relationship with local law enforcement and notify them of the property’s vacancy to increase patrols and response to trespassing. 
      • Educate yourself on squatter’s rights in Ohio and stay informed on any changes to adverse possession laws. 

      Conclusion 

      Knowledge is indeed power when it comes to understanding the laws that regulate adverse possession and ownership. However, it’s worth noting that adverse possession Ohio laws are unlikely to come into play in most cases. Property neglect to the extent that a squatter could go unnoticed for the required period is rare, emphasizing the importance of vigilance and preventative measures in protecting property rights. 

      Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information. 

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      Get all the latest articles and information via email:

      More in Learning Center

      Announcements

      Innago Releases Return Security Deposit Online Fea...

      Renting your property to a stranger is risky. Even with the best tenant screenin...

      September 18, 2023

      Getting Started As A New Landlord

      The Best Websites to Use When House Hunting

      A Guide To House Hunting Sites In today’s digital age, house hunting has b...

      January 29, 2024

      Tenant Screening

      Legal Reasons to Deny a Tenant Application

      When Is It Acceptable To Deny A Tenant? The tenant screening process is designed...

      January 29, 2024