Squatters’ rights, or adverse possession, are a set of legalities designed when homesteading was popular. The government wrote the Homestead Act of 1862, specifying rights to provide legal support for pioneers who moved onto land they perceived as vacant, built a home, and started raising livestock or growing crops. This was a way for pioneers to expand the land under the U.S. government at the time.
Even though times have changed, and squatters’ rights laws may no longer be relevant, this legislation remains on the books. The idea of moving onto vacant land or an empty home and making it your own still exists, meaning the laws still protect squatters’ rights.
The critical point you should remember about squatters’ rights is that they are eligible to stay on your property unless you have reported them within a specific period. In New York, for example, the law is on their side if they’ve been occupying your property for ten years or more. They have the legal right to stay on your property if they pay back taxes, if any, and other necessary fees for the property in your absence.
The relations between squatters and property owners are different from a landlord/owner and a renter. Renting a house or apartment always requires documentation, for example, a basic lease agreement. Squatters act independently and may pretend to have legal documents that “confirm” their legal occupation of a specific place or land. Still, these documents certainly do not ensure law enforcement is on their side.
Nevertheless, you cannot remove squatters without a formal eviction notice and the police. You cannot use violence against adverse possessors, either. Otherwise, they can file a lawsuit against you. A court may not consider your statements that you were protecting your property valid.