Oregon Squatters’ Rights & Adverse Possession Laws - 2024

What are Squatters' Rights in Oregon?

Squatters rights, also known as adverse possession, refers to a legal principle that allows a person to potentially gain ownership of an abandoned or unoccupied property if they occupy it openly and exclusively for a certain period of time. The concept behind squatters rights is that if a property owner has neglected their property for many years and allowed others to openly live on and improve the property, at some point the squatter who has invested time and resources into the property may be able to legally claim ownership.

Each state has its own laws regarding squatters rights and the time period required for adverse possession. In Oregon, a squatter must live on the property openly and continuously without permission for 10 years in order to make an adverse possession claim for legal ownership. 

To successfully claim squatters rights in Oregon, the occupation must be actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile for the entire 10 year period. Simply living on the property alone is not enough - the squatter must demonstrate they are occupying the land as if it belongs to them. The property owner also does not need to be aware of the occupation, as long as it is obvious to the public.

Oregon is one of the more permissive states when it comes to squatter's rights. The continuous occupation time period is shorter compared to many other states, and Oregon law does not require the squatter to pay any property taxes during the 10 years.

This guide will provide an in-depth overview of Oregon's specific squatter's rights laws, the requirements to prove adverse possession, and steps property owners can take to remove or prevent squatters from occupying their property. Understanding the nuances of these laws is important for anyone considering claiming squatter's rights, as well as property owners seeking to protect their assets.

In order to claim squatter's rights in Oregon through adverse possession, you must occupy the property continuously for 10 years. The occupation must also meet certain conditions:

Open Occupation

It must be obvious to anyone, including the legal owner, that you are occupying the property. You cannot try to hide the fact that you are living there. 

Notorious Occupation

Your occupation of the property must be conspicuous and generally known by the public and community.  

Exclusive Occupation

You must be the sole occupant of the property. The legal owner cannot occupy the property with you.

Hostile Occupation

Your occupation must be against the rights of the legal owner. You cannot have the owner's permission or consent to live there.

Continuous Occupation

You must occupy the property for the full 10-year statutory period without any gaps. Even a few days or weeks absence could disrupt the continuity.

Unlike some other states, Oregon does not require you to pay any property taxes in order to make an adverse possession claim. As long as you meet the elements above and occupy the property for 10 full years, you can gain legal ownership without ever paying taxes on it.

Proving Adverse Possession

To prove you qualify for adverse possession in Oregon, you must be able to show evidence that you occupied the property openly, continuously, and exclusively for the required statutory period. While 10 years of continuous occupation may be straightforward in theory, it can be tricky to prove in practice. Here are some tips:

  • Keep dated receipts for any expenses related to the property, like maintenance, repairs, utility bills, etc. The more documentation the better.
  • Take dated photos and videos that establish you living on or making use of the property. Show both interior and exterior areas.
  • Make noticeable improvements to the property that are visible from the outside. Things like landscaping, painting, remodeling projects, etc. 
  • Keep a daily journal or logbook documenting your activities on the property.
  • Get mail, packages, and other deliveries sent to the address to show occupation. Keep all envelopes.
  • Register to vote using the property's address.
  • Obtain witness statements from neighbors, friends, delivery workers, or others who can testify to your continuous occupation of the property for the statutory period. 

Credible witness testimony can be vital to supplement your documentation and prove uninterrupted adverse possession. The more complete the paper trail, the easier it will be to establish your claim with the court if challenged. Consult with a real estate attorney to ensure you adequately prove the elements of adverse possession in Oregon before attempting to claim legal ownership.

Removing Squatters

If you find squatters occupying your property in Oregon, you have a few options to remove them:

File a Lawsuit to Evict Them

You can file a lawsuit in court to evict the squatters from your property. The court will issue an eviction order requiring the squatters to leave the property within a certain timeframe. If they don't comply, the sheriff can forcibly remove them.  

Provide written notice to the squatters that you are the legal owner of the property and do not consent to their occupation of it. This helps establish that their possession is not hostile or adverse to your interests. Send the notice via certified mail and post it on the property.

Change the Locks

You can change the locks on your property to prevent re-entry by the squatters if they leave temporarily. However, you cannot forcibly remove them or their belongings without a court order.

Secure the Property

Take steps to board up or block access points to make it harder for squatters to re-enter your property after being removed. Install fences, gates, security lighting, no trespassing signs as well.

Taking quick legal action gives you the best chance of removing squatters from your property before they can make an adverse possession claim. Consult with a local property lawyer to ensure you follow proper procedures when removing squatters in Oregon.

Preventing Squatters

As a property owner, you can take certain steps to deter squatters and prevent adverse possession of your property in Oregon. 

  • Monitor your property regularly for any signs of trespassing or occupation. Conduct frequent inspections of the exterior and look for indications like changed locks, lights being turned on, cars parked outside, or personal items on the premises. Periodic monitoring creates awareness.
  • Post "No Trespassing" signs prominently around the perimeter of your property. Place signs on the exterior walls or fence facing outward at regular intervals. No Trespassing signs communicate that you do not consent to others occupying your property.
  • Secure all access points to your building against intrusion. Ensure doors and windows are locked. Board up any areas that could be broken into. Install security alarms and motion-sensor lights if necessary. Physically preventing access makes it harder for squatters to take up residence on your property.

Taking proactive measures allows you to stop unauthorized occupation early, before adverse possession rights can be established. If you find squatters present, take prompt legal action to have them removed. Consistent vigilance is key to protecting your property from claims of ownership by squatters.

Exceptions to Adverse Possession

Adverse possession laws contain certain exceptions where squatters cannot make an ownership claim, even if they meet the statutory requirements. Two key exceptions to be aware of in Oregon are:

Government or Utility Owned Properties

You cannot adversely possess land owned by the state, county, or federal government. This includes properties like public parks, roads, highways, waterways, and undeveloped government land. 

Utility-owned properties are also exempt, such as land under power lines or easements for sewer lines. Trying to claim adverse possession on government or utility land would be considered trespassing.

Property Owned by Minors or Legally Incompetent Persons

If the legal owner of the property is a minor, or someone who was deemed mentally incapacitated or legally incompetent, you cannot claim adverse possession during that period. The rationale is that minors and legally incompetent persons require special protection under the law.

The time they owned the property would not count toward the statutory vesting period for adverse possession. Only after the disability is removed can the vesting period start to run its course. This aims to protect vulnerable property owners.

Downsides and Risks of Adverse Possession 

Adverse possession may seem like an easy way to gain property ownership, but there are some significant downsides and risks to be aware of.

If the original property owner challenges an adverse possession claim in court, defending the claim can lead to lengthy legal proceedings and substantial attorney fees. Even if the claim is valid, the adverse possessor will likely need to hire a lawyer to litigate the case through the court system. This can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Property Owner Retaliation  

Trying to claim adverse possession may anger the original property owner, especially if they were unaware their property was being occupied. In some cases, the owner may try to retaliate through threats, violence, or by damaging the property. It's important to carefully assess these risks before attempting to occupy someone else's property.

Forfeiting Claim if Absent from Property

In order to maintain an adverse possession claim in Oregon, the occupant must live on the property continuously for 10 years. If the occupant vacates the property for a period of time, it could disrupt the continuous possession requirement and forfeit the claim. Even a brief absence could potentially derail an adverse possession attempt after many years of occupation.

After Establishing Ownership

Once you have occupied the property continuously for the required statutory period in Oregon (10 years), you must take legal action to claim full ownership of the property. The first step is to file a quiet title action in court, which establishes you as the legal owner and resolves any other competing claims to the property. 

To file a quiet title action, you will need to provide proof that you meet all the requirements for adverse possession. This includes evidence like photos, utility bills, repairs or improvements made to the property. Witness statements from neighbors or community members can also help demonstrate long-term, continuous occupation of the property.

If the court rules in your favor in the quiet title action, the next step is to change the deed to reflect you as the legal property owner. You will need to draft a new deed with your name listed as the grantee. Then you must record the new deed with the county recorder’s office and pay any associated fees and taxes to process the deed transfer.

It is highly advisable to consult a real estate attorney to guide you through the quiet title action process and deed recording. The attorney can ensure all documentation is filed properly for the county to recognize you as the rightful owner. Take great care at this final stage to complete all legal requirements, so your ownership claim is valid.

Other Ways to Gain Ownership

Acquiring property through adverse possession can be time-consuming and risky. Here are some alternatives if you're looking to gain ownership of a property:

Purchase Cheap Land from the County

Many counties auction off land that has gone into tax default. This is when a property owner fails to pay property taxes for a period of time. You can search for upcoming auctions in your county and bid on parcels of land, often for very low prices. The land may be vacant or have structures on it. Do your research ahead of time to understand title issues or back taxes that may still need to be paid on the property.

Buy Unwanted Property from the Owner 

Some property owners end up with land they no longer want or can't use. This may include heirs who have inherited the property, businesses closing down locations, or developers sitting on land. Track down the owner and make an offer to take the property off their hands. Be sure to still do a title search and understand any liabilities that come with the property.

Bid on Tax-Defaulted Property

When property owners fail to pay taxes or default on a mortgage, the property can end up auctioned at a tax sale. Investors and individuals can bid on the property, often buying it for pennies on the dollar. After the redemption period expires and all back taxes and fees are paid, you can obtain the deed free and clear. Tax sales can be risky if there are additional liens or issues with the title, so do your homework first.


When it comes to adverse possession and squatters rights, the laws in Oregon allow you to gain legal ownership of a property after occupying it continuously for 10 years. However, it's essential that you meet all the strict requirements for adverse possession. You must occupy the property in an open, notorious, hostile, and exclusive manner. Simply staying at an abandoned property without the owner's consent does not necessarily establish ownership. 

It's also important to understand that adverse possession cases can become complex legal matters. Before attempting to claim squatters rights, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney to review your specific situation. They can provide guidance on the steps you need to take to strengthen your claim. Proving continuous occupation for the statutory period is just one aspect of meeting the legal test.

Overall, adverse possession laws exist to discourage absentee property ownership and put properties to productive use. But they should not be viewed as a shortcut to gain ownership of just any vacant property. Meet with legal counsel to ensure you understand all the nuances in Oregon's adverse possession laws before pursuing a claim. With the right approach and evidence, you may be able to gain legal ownership of an abandoned property after residing there for 10 years.

Key Takeaways

  • In Oregon, a squatter must occupy a property openly, continuously, exclusively, and without permission for 10 years to potentially gain legal ownership through adverse possession.
  • To successfully claim adverse possession, the squatter's occupation must be actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile towards the actual property owner throughout the entire 10-year period.
  • Unlike some states, Oregon does not require a squatter to pay property taxes on the property they are occupying to claim adverse possession.
  • After fulfilling the 10-year occupation requirement, squatters can file a quiet title lawsuit to legally claim ownership of the property, but the property owner can contest this in court.
  • Squatters must provide substantial evidence of their continuous, open, and exclusive occupation for 10 years, which can include dated receipts, photos, witness statements, and records of improvements made to the property.
  • Property owners can take legal action to remove squatters by filing an eviction lawsuit, providing notice, and securing their property to prevent unauthorized access.
  • For those looking to gain property ownership, alternatives include purchasing land at county auctions, buying unwanted property directly from owners, or bidding on tax-defaulted properties.

Understanding and navigating the laws of adverse possession in Oregon requires careful documentation of occupation and possibly legal assistance to ensure all requirements are met or to challenge a claim effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a squatter have to be in a house in Oregon to claim adverse possession?

In Oregon, a squatter must occupy a house or property openly, continuously, and without permission for 10 years to potentially claim legal ownership through adverse possession.

Can police remove squatters in Oregon?

Police can assist in removing squatters if the property owner has obtained a court order or eviction notice. Without legal action, police involvement may be limited to addressing any immediate criminal activities.

How do I claim adverse possession in Oregon?

To claim adverse possession in Oregon, after occupying the property for 10 continuous years, you must file a quiet title lawsuit in court. This legal action will require proving your occupation meets the criteria of being open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile for the entire period.

How do I report a squatter in Oregon?

To report a squatter, you should first contact local law enforcement to report trespassing. For a more formal eviction process, you may need to file an eviction notice and, if necessary, an eviction lawsuit in court.

What is the new eviction law in Oregon?

The new eviction laws in Oregon have undergone changes primarily to address tenant protections and eviction notice periods. For the most current information, consult Oregon's state housing and legal resources as specifics can vary and are subject to legislative updates.

How long does adverse possession take in Oregon?

Adverse possession in Oregon requires a continuous occupation period of 10 years under the conditions that the possession is open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile towards the property owner's interests.

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