Just like many other states, Idaho’s law makes it possible for a person to claim a property as their own under the law of adverse possession.
We here at Five Star Property Management have written this article to help you develop a better understanding of squatting laws in Idaho.
Who is considered a squatter in Idaho?
A squatter is a person that occupies a property that isn’t their own by making an adverse possession claim. Squatters claiming ownership of a property is not only commonplace in America, but it is also completely legal.
This means that a squatter can legally take ownership of a property without paying a cent, so long as they meet all the requirements under Idaho squatting laws.
Is there a difference between squatting and trespassing in Idaho?
A squatter is not necessarily committing trespassing. While a trespasser may be charged with a criminal offence, squatting is often civil in nature. However, once the actual property owner has established that the person squatting is not welcome, the matter can become a criminal offence.
Is a holdover tenant considered a trespasser?
A holdover tenant is who, despite having their lease expire, refuses to leave the premises. In such a case, an Idaho landlord has two options:
One: to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit and have the tenant evicted.
Or two: to continue renting to the tenant under the same terms and conditions as before, but without signing a lease. This will become an at-will tenancy, meaning that as their landlord, you will have the right to kick the tenant out whenever you want.
What’s more, once a holdover tenant has been asked to leave the property, they forfeit their right to possess the property adversely. At that point, the law views them as criminal trespassers if they refuse to leave.
How do Squatters Rights Work in Idaho?
For someone to gain squatter’s rights in Idaho, they must have lived in your property for a certain period of time. In the state of Idaho, this period is at least 20 years of continuous occupation. This is a significant increase from the previous period of only 5 years.
When a squatter claims a property under adverse possession, they may be able to gain legal property ownership. At that point, they are no longer considered trespassers but legal property owners.
In the United States, for a squatter to gain property ownership, they must first meet five distinct requirements:
1. The claim must be hostile.
In legal terms, “hostile” doesn’t mean violent or dangerous. Rather, it takes the following three meanings:
- Simple occupation: This defines “hostile” as a mere property occupation. The person trespassing is under no obligation to know who the property actually belongs to.
- Awareness of trespassing: This rule requires that the person trespassing know that they are indeed trespassing on someone else’s property.
- Good faith mistake: Here, the trespasser may actually think that they are lawful occupiers of the property. However, the deed they are relying on is incorrect and therefore invalid.
2. The possession must be uninterrupted for a certain period of time.
Idaho’s laws require that a squatter stays in the property for an uninterrupted period of at least 20 years before claiming adverse possession.
3. The possession must be exclusive.
The person living on the property must not share the occupation with anyone else.
4. The possession must be obvious to anyone.
In other words, the squatter must not try to hide the fact that they are living on the property. Even the actual property owner making the investigation should be able to tell that there is somebody living there.
5. The squatter must make reasonable efforts to maintain the property.
The squatter should be able to demonstrate that they are not only living there, but that they are using the property like their own by beautifying the property (or at the very least, maintaining it).
What is the Color of Title?
If you have researched squatters’ rights, then ‘color of title’ is probably a term that you have come across. It is a vital aspect when it comes to adverse possession claims in Idaho.
Basically, it means that the occupant came in possession of the property with an apparent title as opposed to the actual title. In other words, it is a claim appearing to be legally valid, but in actuality, it is not.
In the state of Idaho, this is another requirement that a squatter must make to have a legal claim to the property. Once a squatter has successfully made an adverse possession claim, they may also claim color of title.
How to Prevent Squatters from Entering Your Idaho Property
The following are some things you can do to help ensure your property is safe from squatters and trespassers, especially if you live outside-of-state.
- Regularly inspect the property. If you are unable to do it yourself, hire someone to do it on your behalf. Ideally, hire an experienced property management company.
- Ensure the property is properly secured by locking every door, closing all windows, and blocking all entrances.
- Erect signs at your property that say “No Trespassing”.
How to Evict a Squatter in Idaho
Have the police involved the moment you realize a squatter is living on your property, and serve the squatter with an eviction notice. If the police state that the issue is a civil matter, take up the matter with the courts by filing for unlawful detainer lawsuit.
On the day of the trial, make sure to carry as much proof in regard to the property ownership as possible. You should be able to prove that you are the rightful owner, that there is no lease between you and the squatter, that they forcibly occupied the property, and that they have refused to leave.
If the judgement is in your favor, then obtain a Writ of Restitution and present it to the sheriff. That’s because it’s only the sheriff that can legally remove the squatter from your property.
At Five Star Property Management, we are well acquainted with Idaho laws. Our #1 priority is to ensure your home is well maintained and occupied by high-quality tenants. Contact us today to learn more about our residential property management services in Chubbuck and Pocatello.