Idaho Squatters’ Rights & Adverse Possession Laws - 2024

What Constitutes Adverse Possession in Idaho?

In order for squatters to successfully claim adverse possession in Idaho, they must meet all the legal requirements for continuous possession of the property for the statutory period. This includes:

  • Using the property openly and hostilely, as if they are the true owner, without permission from the legal owner. They must possess the property continuously over the statutory period.
  • Paying the property taxes on the land for the entire statutory period. The squatter must have a deed recorded to show payment of taxes.
  • Making improvements or changes to the land. This demonstrates the squatter is treating the land as their own. Improvements could include building structures, planting trees, clearing land, etc.
  • Meeting the statutory period of possession. In Idaho, the statutory period is 20 years for adverse possession claims. The squatter must reside on the property, without permission, for the full 20 years.

The possession and use must be hostile, open, notorious, exclusive, and continuous over the entire statutory period. The squatter is essentially claiming a right to the land that is opposed to the legal owner's rights. Meeting all the requirements demonstrates the squatter has essentially become the owner through their long-term possession and use of the property.

How Long To Claim Squatter's Rights in Idaho?

In order to claim squatter's rights in Idaho through adverse possession, squatters must occupy the property continuously for a set period of time. The specific time period depends on the type of property:

  • For property that has been cultivated or improved, the statutory period is 5 years of continuous adverse possession. This means actively using agricultural land for farming or making improvements like buildings to vacant land.  
  • For all other types of property including residential, commercial, or undeveloped land, the statutory period is 20 years of continuous adverse possession in Idaho. 

The continuous possession time frame only begins once the squatter occupies the property and begins actively and exclusively using it as their own. Any gaps in possession or use of the property can disrupt the continuity. The statutory clock resets if the squatter vacates the property for any significant period of time.

So in summary, to claim squatter's rights in Idaho, one must adversely possess property for either 5 continuous years (if cultivating/improving land) or 20 continuous years (for other property types). This establishes the minimum time periods to make an adverse possession claim.

Improvements Needed To Claim Adverse Possession in Idaho

To successfully claim adverse possession in Idaho, squatters must make noticeable improvements to the property during the statutory period. Simply occupying the land is not enough the squatter must demonstrate they have put effort into caring for and improving the property. 

The types of improvements commonly used to prove adverse possession in Idaho include:

Building Structures

Constructing buildings like sheds, barns, fences or homes on the property shows the squatter is actively developing and using the land. Structures give clear notice of occupation.

Making Enclosures

Erecting fences or walls around the perimeter of the property demonstrates the squatter is occupying a defined parcel of land. Enclosures mark the boundaries.

Cultivating Land

Clearing brush, planting gardens, landscaping or farming the property proves the squatter is using the land productively. Cultivation shows ongoing care and maintenance.

The more time, money and effort a squatter invests into noticeable improvements on the property, the stronger their adverse possession claim will be. Minor upkeep like mowing grass is generally not enough. The types of substantial improvements required may vary based on whether the land is residential or agricultural.

Can Adverse Possession Be Claimed on Part of a Property?

Yes, in Idaho it is possible to claim adverse possession over only a portion of a property, as long as you meet the requirements for that specific area. The key is that you must have exclusive use of the part you are claiming. 

For example, if a 10 acre property has a vacant shed and yard in one corner, a squatter could potentially claim adverse possession just for that corner area where the shed and yard are located. They would need to openly occupy, maintain, and improve only that portion for the statutory period while meeting the other requirements.

The squatter cannot successfully claim adverse possession of a shared or common area that the true owner also uses. Their use must be exclusive to the part of the land they are claiming. Simply accessing another part of the property, such as a shared driveway, would not qualify as exclusive use.

So in summary, adverse possession can be granted for only a portion of a property as long as the squatter has exclusively used and occupied that area in an open, continuous, and hostile manner for the required statutory period. They need to treat that area as their own property without the true owner's permission. But they cannot claim shared common spaces.

Notice Required To Evict Squatters in Idaho

If squatters have occupied a property but not yet met the statutory period for adverse possession, the owner can provide them with written notice demanding they vacate the premises. The notice should clearly state that they are trespassing on private property and need to leave within a reasonable timeframe such as 30 days. 

The notice should be sent via registered mail so there is proof it was received. It's also a good idea to post a copy on the property itself if possible. If the squatters do not comply and continue occupying the property after the notice period ends, the owner can file a lawsuit to have them evicted as trespassers without having to go through the full eviction process.

The court may issue an eviction order requiring the squatters to vacate immediately and authorizing law enforcement to remove them if they fail to do so. At this point, the owner has the legal right to change the locks and take back possession of their property. As long as the squatters have not met the statutory requirements for adverse possession, the owner can take legal action to remove them.

Do Squatters Have To Pay Property Taxes in Idaho?

Yes, paying property taxes is one of the requirements for adverse possession claims in Idaho. Squatters must pay taxes on the property for the entire statutory period in order to claim adverse possession. 

The payment of taxes shows the squatter has been maintaining and claiming ownership of the property continuously. It also serves as one way to put the legal owner of record on notice that someone else is occupying and claiming their land.

In Idaho, the statutory period for an adverse possession claim can range from 5 to 20 years depending on the circumstances. Squatters would need to demonstrate that they paid the property taxes each year during that entire period. Failure to pay taxes could be used as evidence that the squatter was not occupying the property continuously and exclusively.

Paying property taxes alone does not establish adverse possession. But it is an important requirement, along with open, continuous possession and making valuable improvements to the property. By fulfilling all the requirements over the statutory period, squatters can try to claim legal ownership through adverse possession in Idaho.

Difference Between Squatter's Rights and Adverse Possession

Squatter's rights refer to the act of adversely possessing property, while adverse possession is the actual legal process of claiming ownership. 

Squatter's rights allow a person to occupy an abandoned or vacant property without the owner's permission. The squatter intends to take possession of the property after residing there for a statutory period. 

Adverse possession is the legal method for a squatter to acquire legal ownership of the property they have been occupying. After residing on the property continuously for the required time period (5-20 years in Idaho), the squatter can make an adverse possession claim in court.

If the claim meets all the requirements, including paying property taxes and making improvements, the court will transfer the legal title from the original owner to the squatter. The squatter's rights have allowed them to adversely possess the property.

So in summary:

  • Squatter's rights refer to occupying property with the goal of ownership through adverse possession 
  • Adverse possession is the process of legally claiming ownership of the adversely possessed property after the statutory period

Can a Property Owner Take Action Before a Statutory Period?

In Idaho, a property owner is not powerless against squatters who have occupied their land before the statutory period for adverse possession has elapsed. There are several actions an owner can take:

File a Lawsuit for Trespassing

The owner can file a lawsuit against the squatters for trespassing. Trespassing is the act of being on someone else's property without permission. This allows the owner to have the squatters removed.

Try to Negotiate With Squatters to Leave

The property owner could try to negotiate directly with the squatters to leave the property, either through discussions or a formal notice. If the squatters have not been there too long they may be willing to vacate the property without the need for legal action.

Post No Trespassing Signs

The owner should post no trespassing signs around the perimeter of the property. This helps establish that the owner does not consent to the squatter’s presence on the property. If the signs are ignored, it could help the owner’s trespassing case.

The key is for the property owner to take action before the statutory period for adverse possession runs out. Waiting too long could allow the squatters to claim rights to the property. Acting quickly gives the owner the best chance of reclaiming their land.

Selling a Property With Squatter Claims in Idaho

If you try to sell a property that currently has squatters who have initiated an adverse possession claim, you may face some challenges.  

First, you will likely be legally required to disclose the existence of any adverse claims to potential buyers. Failure to do so could open you up to legal issues down the line if the buyer discovers squatters after purchasing the home. Having to disclose an active squatter claim may deter some buyers entirely or enable them to negotiate a lower price to offset the hassle of dealing with the squatter situation.  

Additionally, standard title insurance policies will likely exclude coverage for claims arising from the presence of squatters. The title company may not be willing to provide insurance against any legal issues or ownership disputes stemming from the adverse possession claim. As a result, the buyer may ask you to provide some form of financial protection through an indemnity agreement should the squatter attempt to sue for ownership after the sale. This additional requirement can complicate the closing process.

In most cases, it is advisable to get the squatter evicted through a court order before attempting to sell the property. This will allow you to obtain clear title and transfer ownership free of any encumbrances from adverse possession claims. However, if the squatter's claim is close to being vested, you may be better off delaying the sale or offering the property at a discount until the matter is resolved.

History of Squatter's Rights in Idaho

Squatter's rights in Idaho have their origins in early homesteading practices. As settlers moved west and claimed parcels of unoccupied land, the concept of staking a claim by occupying and improving property became ingrained in frontier culture. This led to the establishment of formal adverse possession laws being codified in Idaho state statutes in the late 1800s. 

The basic rationale was that vacant or abandoned land should be put to productive use. Squatters who lived on the land and made improvements were rewarded after a statutory period, even if they did not have formal title. The idea was that adverse possession laws promoted development of the territory.

Today, the legacy of these homesteading-era laws remains, despite some controversies. Critics argue that squatters' rights amount to legalized theft of property. However, Idaho statutes still uphold adverse possession doctrine, within certain boundaries. The required time periods are long, and squatters must meet standards around open, continuous, hostile use and payment of taxes.

While not as prevalent today, cases of squatters attempting to claim adverse possession still occur in Idaho from time to time. The states' laws ultimately derive from the days of frontier expansion and homesteading practices from the late 1800s. This historical context helps explain the legal heritage around squatter's rights that continues in modern statutes.

Key Takeaways

  • In Idaho, squatters can claim adverse possession after a continuous occupation for 20 years, or 5 years for cultivated or improved land, demonstrating a legal framework that distinguishes between types of property usage.
  • To claim adverse possession in Idaho, squatters must meet several criteria, including paying property taxes, making visible improvements, and using the property openly and hostilely, without the legal owner's permission.
  • Adverse possession in Idaho requires the squatter's possession to be hostile (without the owner's permission), open (visible to anyone), and notorious (known by others), ensuring the squatter's claim is apparent and undisguised.
  • Squatters must exclusively possess and use the entire parcel of land they are claiming, without sharing it with others, including the legal owner, continuously over the required statutory period.
  • Property owners in Idaho have options to remove squatters before the statutory period for adverse possession is met, including providing written notice demanding vacating the premises and filing a lawsuit for eviction.
  • In Idaho, it's possible to claim adverse possession over just a portion of a property, provided the squatter has exclusively used and occupied that specific area in an open, continuous, and hostile manner for the statutory period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there squatter rights in Idaho?

Yes, Idaho recognizes squatter rights under its adverse possession laws. Squatters can potentially claim legal ownership of a property after meeting certain criteria over a continuous period.

How long does it take to evict a squatter in Idaho?

The time it takes to evict a squatter in Idaho can vary based on the specific circumstances and the speed of the legal process. Generally, once eviction proceedings are initiated, it can take several weeks to a few months to complete the eviction.

What is the shortest time for squatters rights?

In Idaho, the shortest statutory period for a squatter to claim adverse possession is 5 years for cultivated or improved property, provided specific conditions are met, including the payment of property taxes and visible improvements to the property.

What is the adverse possession statute in Idaho?

The adverse possession statute in Idaho generally requires squatters to occupy a property continuously for 20 years (10 years if the squatter has a color of title and has paid property taxes) to make a successful claim. The occupation must be open, notorious, exclusive, and without the legal owner's consent.

What state has the best squatter rights?

The perception of "best" squatter rights can vary depending on the perspective (squatter vs. property owner). Some states with shorter adverse possession periods, like California (5 years with the payment of taxes and color of title) or Montana (5 years under specific conditions), may be viewed as more favorable to squatters. However, "favorability" is subjective and can depend on various factors, including other legal requirements and protections for property owners.

How long until property is considered abandoned in Idaho?

Idaho does not have a specific statute that defines when property is considered legally abandoned by a property owner. However, for the purposes of adverse possession, a squatter must occupy the property for a continuous period (5 to 20 years) for it to be considered abandoned in favor of the squatter's claim.

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