While it seems like something out of a nightmare, squatters’ rights are a very real concern for landlords in Missouri. In fact, you could lose property that is rightly yours to a squatter, or a person that takes up residence on your land for an extended period of time. The Balance explains how squatters’ can take control of a property and what landlords can do to prevent the unthinkable from happening.
In general, a few things must take place for a squatter to take adverse possession of someone else’s property. First, the squatter must take possession of the property and use it for residential or business purposes. As an example, a person may enter a home that is unoccupied and live there, without the landlord’s express approval. This use must be open and obvious to others, meaning that a squatter isn’t hiding on the property or attempting to conceal his or her presence.
Next, the squatter must have exclusive possession of the land without the participation of any other entities. Also, the rightful owner must not know that the property is being occupied. Most importantly, the squatter would need to occupy the home for the entire statutory period. In Missouri, a person must occupy a property for a period of ten years to take adverse possession.
Squatters are usually successful when a property owner lives out of state, otherwise they would be discovered well before the statutory period is up. This is precisely how landlords can prevent people from taking possession of their property. By frequently checking in on the property, you can prevent others from staking a claim on what is rightfully yours. You can also seek out legal assistance if you discover that someone is attempting to take possession of your property.