Understanding Squatters’ Rights in Fort Collins

Understanding Squatters’ Rights in Fort Collins

As a rental property owner, you’ve probably heard your fair share of squatting horror stories. 

But what exactly is squatting? And what are squatters’ rights in Fort Collins?

In this article, we’ll explore the legal definition of squatting, delve into the history of squatters’ rights in Fort Collins, outline how squatters' rights work, and discuss ways to protect your property from squatters.

Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this blog are for general informational purposes only.

The Legal Definition of Squatting

Squatting, also known as adverse possession, means living in or taking possession of a property that belongs to someone else, without their permission. In Fort Collins, squatters may attempt to gain legal ownership of a property by satisfying specific legal requirements defined by adverse possession laws.

The History of Squatting Laws in Colorado

In the state’s early, Wild West days, squatting was a common practice, and Colorado had much more lenient regulations regarding adverse possession. Individuals would settle on unclaimed lands and establish their homes and livelihoods. This was often done out of necessity, as settlers sought to build a better life for themselves and their families. Basically, at that time, squatters were pioneers.

As Colorado and Fort Collins grew and became more urbanized, though, the government recognized the need to establish clear property rights and boundaries. This led to the implementation of laws and regulations surrounding squatting and adverse possession.

Over the years, the legal landscape has changed significantly. The state of Colorado has tightened its grip on property ownership, making it more challenging for squatters to successfully claim adverse possession. This shift reflects evolving societal values and the desire to protect property rights.

The Difference Between Trespassing and Squatting

While trespassing and squatting may seem similar, they are legally distinct. Trespassing typically refers to the act of entering someone else's property without permission, while squatting involves the continuous occupation of a property without ownership or authorization.

Trespassing is generally considered a criminal offense and can result in legal consequences such as fines or imprisonment. Squatting, on the other hand, involves a more complex legal situation. It is not simply a matter of trespassing, but rather a prolonged occupation of a property without the owner's consent. Squatters may argue that they have fulfilled the requirements for adverse possession, which can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

The laws regarding squatting and adverse possession differ from state to state and even within different municipalities. That means that the rules might be different in Fort Collins than, say, Boulder. As a property owner, it’s critical that you are informed about local laws and seek legal advice if faced with a squatting situation.

The Process of Adverse Possession in Fort Collins

The Colorado adverse possession law defines specific requirements for individuals seeking to claim ownership through adverse possession. These requirements typically include open and notorious possession, continuous occupation for a minimum of 18 years, or for seven years with color of title and payment of property taxes.

Adverse possession claims require strong evidence to support the squatter's case. The burden of proof lies with the squatter, who must demonstrate that they have met all the necessary requirements and acted in good faith.

But hey, we’re property managers, not lawyers! Be sure to speak with a Fort Collins-based real estate attorney to confirm these requirements and determine whether they apply to your situation.

Rights and Protections for Squatters

Although squatters operate outside of the bounds of legal ownership, they still have certain rights and protections under Colorado law.

Squatters’ Rights in Fort Collins

Despite the illicit nature of squatting, Fort Collins provides limited protection for squatters. The law typically requires property owners to follow strict eviction procedures before forcibly removing squatters.

A local property management company may be able to assist with a lawful eviction.

How Property Owners Can Prevent Squatting

Property owners in Fort Collins have various options and strategies to prevent squatters from occupying their properties illegally.

Regular Property Inspections and Maintenance

Regular inspections and maintenance are essential for property owners to identify any unauthorized occupants or signs of squatting. Prompt action can help prevent potential adverse possession claims.

If you live out-of-state, or if you’re just not up to the task, a property management company can do this on your behalf

Legal Actions Against Squatters

Property owners have legal remedies available to handle squatters effectively. This can include initiating eviction proceedings, obtaining court orders, and seeking assistance from law enforcement to regain control of the property.

Remember: Speak with a legal professional before taking any action. 

Final Thoughts: Squatters’ Rights in Fort Collins

In conclusion, understanding squatters' rights in Fort Collins is critical for rental property owners. By understanding adverse possession, the rights and protections for squatters, and the actions property owners can take to prevent and evict squatters, all parties involved can navigate this complex issue more effectively. Remaining vigilant, conducting regular property inspections, and seeking legal guidance when needed will help you maintain the security and integrity of your property.

Looking for a Property Management Company in Fort Collins?

Need help with squatters, marketing, maintenance, and more? Evernest Fort Collins is here to help! Contact our local team to get started today.