Connecticut Squatters’ Rights & Adverse Possession Laws - 2024

What are Squatters' Rights in Connecticut?

Squatters' rights, also known as adverse possession, refer to a legal claim allowing people to gain ownership of a property that they have occupied continuously for a statutory period. In Connecticut, this period is 15 years.  

To make an adverse possession claim in Connecticut and gain legal ownership, squatters must meet specific requirements

Actual Possession

They must physically occupy and live on the property for the entire statutory period. Simply visiting or storing belongings does not qualify.

Open & Notorious Possession

The occupation must be obvious and known to the legal owner and community. They cannot hide their occupancy.

Exclusive Possession

Squatters must possess the property exclusively, without permission from the legal owner. Sharing possession with the owner disqualifies the claim.

Continuous Possession

Squatters must live on the property continuously for the full statutory period, in this case 15 years. Any gap breaks the continuous possession. 

Hostile Possession

"Hostile" means occupying the property without permission from the legal owner, not actual hostility or violence. The owner must not have given them permission to live there.

In addition to meeting these adverse possession requirements, Connecticut squatters must pay property taxes, make visible improvements, and otherwise act like owners to eventually claim legal ownership.

How Long for Squatters to Claim Adverse Possession in CT

In order to make an adverse possession claim in Connecticut, squatters must occupy the property continuously for a statutory period of 15 years. This means that the squatters must use the property openly and exclusively, without permission from the legal owner, for 15 complete and uninterrupted years. 

The 15-year time period is strictly enforced in Connecticut adverse possession cases. If the squatters' occupation is disrupted or halted at any point before the 15 years are up, then the clock restarts. Even a temporary absence could undermine a future claim, unless the squatters take reasonable precautions to secure the property during their absence.

Overall, the continuous possession requirement sets a high bar for adverse possession claims in Connecticut. Squatters cannot come and go as they please and still expect to take ownership. To meet the 15-year threshold, they must maintain actual, exclusive, continuous possession of the property for the entire statutory period.

Requirements to Claim Adverse Possession in CT

For a squatter to successfully claim adverse possession in Connecticut and gain legal ownership of a property, they must meet several specific legal requirements over the statutory period of 15 years

Actual Possession

The squatter must physically occupy and live on the property. Occasional visits or stopping by the property does not qualify as actual possession. 

Open & Notorious Possession

The squatter's occupation of the property must be obvious and known to the public. They make no attempt to hide the fact that they are residing on the land.

Exclusive Possession

The squatter must be the only one in possession of the property. Sharing occupancy with the owner, tenants, or others would break the exclusivity requirement.

Hostile Possession

The squatter's occupation must be against the rights of the true owner and without permission. There's no valid claim if the owner granted them license to be there.

Continuous Possession

The squatter must reside on the property for the entire statutory period without any extended gaps or abandonment of the property. In CT, it's 15 years of continuous possession.

Paying Property Taxes

Paying property taxes helps strengthen an adverse possession claim by demonstrating the squatter acted as the true owner.

Making Improvements

Making upgrades like renovations, additions, repairs, landscaping, etc. can help satisfy the "open and notorious" requirement and shows the squatter is maintaining the property as an owner would.

The squatter bears the burden of proving all these elements to make a valid adverse possession claim in Connecticut. If they cannot definitively show each requirement, their claim will likely fail. Property owners can prevent claims by monitoring their property and asserting their rights.

How Property Owners Can Prevent Adverse Possession

Connecticut property owners have several options to prevent squatters from gaining adverse possession rights to their land

Secure the Property

Make sure all entry points like doors and windows are properly locked and secured. Consider installing fences, gates, or other barriers to restrict access. You may also want security cameras or alarm systems.

Post No Trespassing Signs

Place highly visible "No Trespassing" signs around the perimeter. This makes it clear the property is private and not open to the public.

Visit Regularly

Frequently check on the property, at least every few weeks. Look for any signs of unauthorized entry or occupation. Your presence helps demonstrate ownership.

Rent Out the Property

Having tenants or renters is one of the best ways to prevent squatters. Their legal right to occupy makes it much harder for squatters to make a claim. Even occasional short-term rentals can help.

Taking these proactive measures allows owners to monitor their property and stop adverse possession claims before they begin. Don't let your vacant land or buildings become a target for squatters seeking to take possession. Consistent ownership activities reinforce your property rights.

Steps if Squatters Occupy Your Property in Connecticut

If you find squatters occupying your property in Connecticut, you will need to take legal action to have them removed. Here are the key steps

Serve a Notice to Quit 

The first step is to serve the squatters with a written notice to quit, which gives them a specific deadline to vacate the property, usually 30 days. This provides them official notice that they are being asked to leave.

File an Eviction Lawsuit 

If the squatters do not leave by the deadline on the notice to quit, the next step is to file a summons and complaint for eviction in your local court. This initiates the formal eviction proceedings.

Obtain a Court Order

You will have to go through the court eviction process, which may involve mediation and a trial. If the judge rules in your favor, you will receive a court order directing the squatters to vacate the property.

Have the Sheriff 

Remove the Squatters If the squatters still refuse to leave after the court order, you can arrange with the sheriff's office to have them forcibly removed. The sheriff will come to the property and remove the squatters and their belongings.

The entire eviction process usually takes 2-3 months in Connecticut if the squatters contest it. It's important to take action quickly if squatters occupy your vacant property, so they don't try to claim adverse possession rights. Having them legally removed preserves your rights as the property owner.

Can Police Remove Squatters in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, police cannot simply remove squatters from a property whenever the owner requests it. There is a legal process that must be followed to evict squatters:

  • The property owner must first serve the squatters with a notice to quit, which gives them a specified period of time to vacate the property, usually 30 days. 
  • If the squatters do not leave after the notice period expires, the owner can file an eviction lawsuit against them in court. This begins a formal legal proceeding to remove the squatters.
  • After hearing the case, the court will issue an eviction order if the owner is successful in proving their claim. The court order formally requires the squatters to vacate the property.
  • With a court-ordered eviction in hand, the property owner can then request the assistance of law enforcement to physically remove the squatters if they still refuse to leave willingly. 
  • At this point, police have the legal authority to escort the squatters off the premises, with force if necessary. The squatters would be subject to arrest for trespassing if they return after being evicted.

So in summary, yes the police can remove squatters in Connecticut, but only after the property owner receives a formal eviction order from a court. Police do not have inherent authority to remove squatters on their own without this legal due process.

Tenant Rights if Accused of Being Squatters

Tenants have important legal rights if a landlord wrongly accuses them of being squatters in Connecticut. A tenant cannot simply be removed or locked out of a rental property they are lawfully occupying, even if the landlord believes they are trespassing.

Tenants have the right to proper advance notice before any eviction process can begin. In Connecticut, landlords must provide a Notice to Quit, which gives tenants at least 3 days notice before starting eviction proceedings.

Tenants also have the right to contest any eviction lawsuit filed against them. If a landlord files for eviction, the tenant can appear in court and explain they are legal tenants, not squatters. The court will require the landlord to provide evidence the tenants are not lawful occupants.  

Tenants should never have utilities shut off or face any attempts to forcibly remove them without due process. A landlord must go through the full eviction lawsuit process and obtain a court order before tenants can lawfully be removed from a property.

If a landlord does improperly force out tenants believed to be squatters, the tenants can sue the landlord for illegal eviction and recover damages. The tenants may also be able to move back into the rental unit.

Tenants who receive accusations of being squatters should carefully review their lease and rental history. Consulting a tenant rights attorney or housing clinic can also help lawful tenants assert their rights and avoid illegal removal or lockouts.

Squatters have very limited legal rights when occupying a property without the owner's permission in Connecticut. They do not have any entitlement to basic utilities like water, electricity, gas, or sewage services just because they have taken up residence in the property. 

Additionally, squatters have no right to make any repairs or improvements to the property. They are considered trespassers under the law rather than tenants or residents.

The only way squatters can gain any legal rights to the property is by pursuing an adverse possession claim after 15 years of continuous, open, and hostile occupation. Even in these cases, they can still be removed through the legal eviction process initiated by the rightful property owner.

Squatters cannot claim a right to occupy the property without the owner's permission. The owner can take legal action to have the squatters removed through filing an eviction lawsuit and obtaining a court order. Police can then enforce the court order and physically remove the squatters from the premises if they do not vacate voluntarily.

Overall, squatters have extremely limited rights in Connecticut when occupying a property without consent. They can quickly be removed through the eviction process as trespassers.

Liability if Squatters Damage Property

It is usually the property owner who is legally responsible for any damages caused by squatters occupying a property in Connecticut. The property owner maintains liability for the condition of the property, even if they do not have control over it. 

If squatters damage the property, the costs for repairs or remediation would typically fall upon the owner. However, the property owner may be able to recover some of these costs by suing the squatters for damages. The feasibility of this depends on whether the squatters have any assets or wages that could be collected through a legal judgment. But it can be very difficult to recover costs from squatters who have no resources.

Ultimately, while the property owner remains liable, they have limited recourse for recovering costs if squatters don't have money or assets. The best practice is to take preventative measures to avoid squatters occupying the property in the first place.

Timeline to Evict Squatters in Connecticut

The typical timeline to legally evict squatters in Connecticut is around 2-3 months. Here are the key steps:

1.Serve Notice to Quit

The first step is for the property owner to serve a "notice to quit", which gives the squatters 30 days to vacate the property before eviction proceedings begin. The notice must be properly served according to Connecticut law.

2. File Eviction Lawsuit

If the squatters do not leave after being served notice, the next step is for the property owner to file an eviction lawsuit against the squatters in housing court. This formally starts the legal eviction process.

3. Obtain Court Order

The judge will hear the case and issue a court order stating whether the eviction is approved. If approved, the order will direct the squatters to vacate the property by a certain date, usually within a week or two.

4. Removal by Sheriff

If the squatters do not comply with the court order by the move out date, the county sheriff can be directed to forcibly remove the squatters and their belongings from the property. The sheriff is authorized to use reasonable force if needed to complete the eviction.

The entire process takes around 2-3 months assuming the property owner follows all proper procedures and there are no significant delays or appeals from the squatters. The key is to act quickly and comply with all legal requirements in order to remove unwanted squatters from the property as soon as possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Adverse Possession in Connecticut: Connecticut recognizes the concept of adverse possession, allowing individuals to gain legal ownership of property under certain conditions if they occupy the land continuously for a specific period, typically 15 years in Connecticut.
  • For a squatter to claim adverse possession in Connecticut, they must occupy the property openly, continuously, and without the permission of the original owner for the entire statutory period.
  • In some cases, paying property taxes can strengthen a squatter's claim to adverse possession, although this requirement can vary and may not always be necessary in Connecticut.
  • Property owners can prevent adverse possession claims by regularly inspecting their property, ensuring their property boundaries are clear, posting "No Trespassing" signs, and taking legal action against unauthorized occupants as soon as they become aware of their presence.
  • To legally remove squatters, property owners in Connecticut may need to go through the formal eviction process, which involves serving notice and possibly filing an eviction lawsuit in court.
  • Property owners are advised to maintain accurate records, including deeds and tax payments, and to resolve any disputes or unauthorized uses of their property promptly to protect against adverse possession claims.
  • These laws aim to encourage the productive use of land and resolve disputes over land ownership, but they require property owners to be vigilant about their property rights and the use of their land.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a squatter out of Connecticut?

To remove squatters in Connecticut, property owners should first attempt to ask the squatters to leave voluntarily. If this fails, the next step is typically to serve a formal notice to vacate. If squatters do not comply, property owners may need to file an eviction lawsuit in court, following the legal process for eviction similarly to how they would with a tenant.

What is the adverse possession law in Connecticut?

Adverse possession in Connecticut allows a person to claim ownership of land under certain conditions if they possess it openly, continuously, and exclusively for a statutory period, typically 15 years. The claimant must use the property as if they are the owner, which includes maintaining the property and, in some cases, paying property taxes.

What is considered a squatter in Connecticut?

A squatter in Connecticut is generally considered to be a person who occupies land or a building without the legal right or permission of the owner. Squatters do not have a lease or any formal agreement with the property owner but might attempt to claim rights to the property through adverse possession after meeting certain legal criteria over an extended period.

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