Nebraska Squatters’ Rights & Adverse Possession Laws - 2024

Requirements for Adverse Possession in Nebraska

In order to claim squatters’ rights in Nebraska through adverse possession, a squatter must meet several legal requirements. The squatter must openly occupy the property continuously for a period of 10 years. They must use the property as an owner typically would, without permission from the actual property owner. 

The squatter must also pay any relevant property taxes, make noticeable improvements to the property, and generally demonstrate a claim of ownership throughout the 10 year period. Merely occupying the land is not enough - the squatter must take actions an owner would, like maintaining the land, building structures, farming, fencing off the area, etc. Their use and occupation must encompass the entire property, not just a portion of it.

The 10 year timeline is a crucial component of Nebraska's adverse possession laws. The squatter must reside there without interruption for the full decade before they can legally file a claim seeking ownership. Sporadic or occasional use does not meet the requirements. The squatter's presence and use of the property must be continuous, actual, visible, notorious, distinct, and hostile to the actual property owner's rights.

By meeting all the requirements for the 10 year period, the squatter can then attempt to claim legal ownership of the property through adverse possession. However, the court will require clear proof and evidence that the squatter resided on the property openly and treated it as their own for the entire 10 years.

Who Qualifies as a Squatter in Nebraska?

In order to qualify as a squatter in Nebraska, a person must occupy a property that is abandoned or vacant. They must have the intention to claim legal ownership of the property after living there for a continuous period of 10 years. 

To qualify as a squatter, the person must use the property in the same way an owner would. This means living there full-time and making it their permanent home and address. They may improve the land by adding structures, maintaining the property, and integrating it into their daily life.

The key distinctions are that a squatter must occupy an abandoned or vacant property, with the goal of claiming ownership after 10 years of continuous residence. Their use of the land must be open and notorious, like any other owner. If the occupant has permission from the owner, they would not qualify as a squatter.

Who Does Not Qualify as a Squatter?

Not everyone who occupies a property without permission is considered a squatter under Nebraska's adverse possession laws. To qualify, the occupation has to meet certain requirements.

Someone who has the permission of the owner does not qualify as a squatter. This could include tenants, guests, caretakers, or others who have the owner's consent to be on the property. Even if they have been there for many years, their possession is not considered "hostile" since it is allowed by the owner.

A person who only uses or occupies a portion of the property does not qualify for adverse possession of the entire parcel. For example, someone who camps on a back corner of a large vacant lot does not have a claim to ownership of the entire lot after 10 years. Their claim would only apply to the small area they actually occupied.  

In addition, the occupation of the property has to be open, notorious, and continuous for the 10 year period. Someone who sporadically accesses a property without the owner's permission does not meet this standard. The squatter has to reside on the land as an average owner would for the entire 10 years, without gaps. If they do not meet this open and continuous occupation requirement, they do not qualify to make an adverse possession claim.

So in summary, someone with the owner's permission, only occupying part of the land, or not residing continuously for 10 full years would not qualify as a squatter for the purposes of claiming adverse possession in Nebraska. The occupation has to be actual, continuous, open, and hostile to the actual owner's rights.

How to Claim Adverse Possession in Nebraska

In order to successfully claim adverse possession in Nebraska, you must follow several steps:

  • Research the property records to confirm the land is actually abandoned and has no current legal owner. Look at the county records to see that no one is paying taxes or has a deed for the property.
  • Openly occupy and use the entire property continuously for 10 full years. Do not just use part of the land. Your occupation must be obvious to anyone who inspects the property. 
  • Make valuable improvements to the property like fixing up a house, landscaping, planting trees or crops, etc. Also pay any taxes, fees or bills associated with the property. Keep receipts showing you have been caring for it.
  • After 10 continuous years of occupying the property, you can file a lawsuit in county court to claim ownership by adverse possession. Bring evidence showing you have fulfilled all the requirements. The court will make the final determination.
  • If the court rules in your favor, you will be granted legal title to the property which was previously abandoned or unoccupied. The former owner no longer has any rights to the land after you adversely possessed it for 10 years.

By following these steps carefully, you may be able to successfully claim adverse possession over an abandoned property in Nebraska after occupying it continuously for 10 years. Be sure to consult a real estate attorney before taking any action.

Removing Squatters in Nebraska  

If you discover someone occupying your vacant property in Nebraska without permission, you will need to legally remove them through the eviction process. Here are the steps:

1. Provide written notice that they are trespassing

Give the squatters a formal trespass notice stating they do not have permission to be on your property. Send this by certified mail and post a copy visibly on the property as well.

2. File an eviction lawsuit if they don't leave

If the squatters do not vacate the premises within a reasonable time after receiving the trespass notice, you can file a lawsuit to evict them. You will need to provide proof you own the property.

3. Get a court order for removal

Once you win the eviction lawsuit, the court will issue an order for the squatters to vacate by a certain date. If they do not leave by then, the sheriff can physically remove them and their belongings.  

4. The sheriff will coordinate the removal process

Provide the court order to the local sheriff's office. They will handle notifying the squatters of the eviction date and time, as well as bringing law enforcement to remove them if necessary.

By following the proper legal process, you can get a court order to have unwanted squatters removed from your Nebraska property. This ensures they cannot try to make an adverse possession claim. Consult with a local real estate attorney for assistance.

Criminal Charges Against Squatters

In some cases, squatters can face criminal charges for their actions. The main charges brought against squatters in Nebraska include:


Trespassing refers to entering private property without permission from the owner. In Nebraska, trespassing is a misdemeanor offense. If a squatter refuses to leave a property after being given notice by the owner, they can be charged with criminal trespass. This may include trespassing charges for each day they remain on the property unlawfully.

Breaking and Entering  

If a squatter forces their way into a property by damaging locks or doors, they may be charged with breaking and entering. This is a more serious charge than trespassing, and is classified as a felony in Nebraska. Mandatory minimum sentences apply based on the nature of the breaking and entering.


Squatters who damage or deface a property they are occupying without permission may face vandalism charges. In Nebraska, vandalism resulting in damages of $1,500 or more is prosecuted as a felony. Depending on the extent of damage caused, squatters may face fines, imprisonment, and restitution payments to the property owner.

By understanding the potential criminal consequences, property owners can better leverage the law to remove unwanted squatters from their premises. Consulting with local law enforcement is advised if a squatter situation escalates to pressing criminal charges.

Preventing Squatters 

Securing any vacant properties you own is crucial to prevent squatters from moving in. Here are some tips:

  • Change the locks on all entryways as soon as the property becomes vacant. This will prevent unauthorized access.  
  • Board up windows, doors, and any other potential entryways that are not being used. This will make it more difficult for squatters to get in.
  • Install no trespassing signs around the perimeter. This establishes clear notice that any entry is prohibited.
  • Have someone check on the property frequently - at least weekly, if not more often. The more often the property is checked, the faster you'll notice any squatters.
  • File a "no trespassing" order against anyone who is found occupying the property without permission. This gives police the authority to charge them with trespassing if they return.  
  • Document with photos or video any property or building damage caused by squatters. This evidence can help in pressing criminal charges.
  • Cut off utilities like electricity and water if possible. With the utilities off, the property will be less enticing for squatters.

Taking preventative measures like these can help significantly deter potential squatters and give you recourse if they do occupy your vacant property. Consistently checking on and securing your unoccupied properties is key.

Comparison to Other Midwest States  

Nebraska's 10-year requirement for adverse possession lines up with some states in the Midwest, while others have shorter or longer time periods required to claim squatters’ rights.

  • Iowa has one of the shortest time requirements at just 5 years of continuous possession before a squatter can make an adverse possession claim. This means Iowa property owners have less time to take action before squatters can try to claim legal ownership.
  • Missouri matches Nebraska in requiring 10 years of uninterrupted occupation and use of a property before adverse possession can be claimed. So squatters in Missouri face the same decade-long residency requirement as in Nebraska.
  • Illinois stands out in the Midwest for having one of the longest adverse possession requirements. Squatters must openly occupy a property without permission for 20 years before they become eligible to file a claim for ownership through adverse possession.  

The variance between 5 years in Iowa, 10 years in Nebraska and Missouri, and 20 years in Illinois demonstrates how squatter's rights can differ significantly even between neighboring states. Property owners should be aware of the specific laws in their state.

Recent Changes to Laws

In 2016, the Nebraska legislature passed a bill that made some key changes to the state's adverse possession laws. One of the most significant changes was increasing the required occupancy period from 10 years to 25 years for adverse possession claims. 

This change was intended to make it more difficult for squatters to successfully claim adverse possession. Proponents argued that 10 years was too short given average property owner absenteeism. They felt 25 years provides adequate time for most rightful property owners to discover and take action against unwanted squatters.

In addition to lengthening the required occupancy period, the updated law also requires that the adverse possessor pay all property taxes for the entire 25 year period. Previous versions of the law only required taxes be paid for 10 of the preceding 25 years. Requiring taxes to be paid for the full occupancy period makes an adverse possession claim more challenging.

The legislation also clarified that any improvements made to the property by the adverse possessor can be removed by the rightful owner if the claim fails. In the past, some unsuccessful squatters tried to demand payment for improvements they had made. This provision makes it clear the rightful owner has no such obligation.

So in summary, the key changes made in 2016 were extending the statutory period from 10 to 25 years, requiring property taxes be paid for the full period, and clarifying that improvements can be removed if the claim fails. These updates significantly strengthened the rights of property owners and made adverse possession more difficult to accomplish in Nebraska.

Nebraska Statutes on Adverse Possession 

The full legal statutes on adverse possession and squatters’ rights in Nebraska can be found in the Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 25 on Property.

Specifically, Section 25-202 covers adverse possession. It states:

"A person claiming title and possession of real property under the requirements of this section must prove continuous, exclusive, actual, physical possession under claim of ownership for a period of ten years. Evidence must be strict, clear, and convincing."

Section 25-202 goes on to lay out additional details on:

  • What constitutes adverse possession
  • Who can and cannot claim adverse possession
  • How to make a claim of adverse possession

The full text of Section 25-202 and other related statutes can be found on the Nebraska Legislature's website.

Reviewing the official statutes is the best way to understand the nuances of adverse possession and squatters’ rights laws in Nebraska. Property owners, real estate professionals, and anyone dealing with squatters should reference these statutes for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Key Takeaways

  • In Nebraska, squatters must continuously occupy a property for 10 years to claim adverse possession, using the property as an owner would, including maintaining and making improvements.
  • Squatters are required to pay relevant property taxes throughout the 10-year period to qualify for adverse possession, demonstrating a claim of ownership.
  • The occupation must be open and visible to anyone, indicating that the squatter is using the property without the legal owner's permission and as if they were the owner themselves.
  • To qualify as a squatter under Nebraska law, an individual must occupy an abandoned or vacant property with the intention of claiming legal ownership after living there for a continuous period of 10 years, making the property their permanent home and address.
  • Individuals with the owner's permission, those occupying only a part of the property, or those whose use is sporadic or occasional do not qualify for adverse possession claims in Nebraska.
  • To claim adverse possession, a squatter must openly occupy the entire property for 10 full years, make improvements, pay taxes, and then file a lawsuit in county court to claim ownership, providing clear proof of their continuous residence and treatment of the property as their own.
  • Property owners discovering unauthorized occupants can serve a formal trespass notice and, if necessary, file an eviction lawsuit to legally remove squatters through court orders enforced by the sheriff.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get rid of squatters in Nebraska?

To remove squatters in Nebraska, serve them with a formal notice to vacate. If they do not leave, file an eviction lawsuit in court. Once you obtain a court order, law enforcement can physically remove the squatters from the property.

How long is adverse possession in Nebraska?

The period for adverse possession in Nebraska is 10 years. A squatter must continuously occupy the property for this duration, meeting specific legal requirements to claim ownership.

Do squatters need to pay property taxes in Nebraska?

Yes, to qualify for adverse possession in Nebraska, squatters must pay all relevant property taxes on the property they are occupying during the 10-year period.

Is squatting illegal in Nebraska?

Yes, squatting is illegal in Nebraska. Occupying or entering property without the owner's permission is considered trespassing. However, squatters can potentially gain legal rights through adverse possession after meeting strict requirements over a 10-year period.

Featured Tools
Finding and Selecting the Best Tenant
For a $2,000 monthly rental: 1. You lose $1,000 if you have your rental on the market for 15 additional days. 2. You lose $1,000+ for evictions. Learn how to quickly find and select a qualified tenant while following the law.
More Tools