How to Claim Squatters Rights in Pa

How to Claim Squatters Rights in PA

Squatters rights, also known as adverse possession, is a legal concept that allows individuals to claim ownership of a property they have occupied and maintained without the actual owner’s permission. While the laws surrounding squatters rights vary from state to state, this article will focus specifically on how to claim squatters rights in Pennsylvania (PA). Here is what you need to know if you are considering claiming squatters rights in PA.

1. Understand the criteria for adverse possession: To claim squatters rights in PA, you must meet certain criteria. Firstly, you must occupy the property openly and exclusively without the owner’s permission. Additionally, your possession must be continuous for a period of at least 21 years. You must also pay property taxes during this time and make improvements to the property.

2. Conduct a thorough title search: Before attempting to claim squatters rights, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive title search to determine the true owner of the property. This search will help you confirm if the property is unclaimed or abandoned, as well as identify any potential legal obstacles.

3. Consult with an attorney: It is highly recommended to seek legal advice from an attorney who specializes in real estate law. They can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, and ensure that you follow the proper legal procedures.

4. File an Affidavit of Possession: To initiate the process, you must file an Affidavit of Possession with the local county courthouse. This document serves as official notice to the true owner of your intent to claim squatters rights. It is crucial to complete the affidavit accurately and provide all necessary information.

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5. Continue to occupy and maintain the property: During the 21-year period, you must continue to occupy and maintain the property without interruption. This includes paying property taxes, making necessary repairs, and ensuring the property is presentable.

6. Address encroachments and challenges: If there are any encroachments or challenges from the true owner or other parties, it is important to address them promptly. This may involve negotiations, obtaining legal assistance, or proving your continuous possession of the property.

7. Consult with a surveyor: To strengthen your claim, it is advisable to hire a professional surveyor to establish the property boundaries and confirm the extent of your possession. This survey report can be valuable evidence if your claim is challenged in court.


1. Can I claim squatters rights if the property is owned by a bank?
Yes, you can claim squatters rights even if the property is owned by a bank. However, be aware that banks are typically more vigilant in protecting their properties, so the process may be more challenging.

2. Can I claim squatters rights on public land?
No, squatters rights only apply to privately owned land. Public lands are owned by the government and are not subject to adverse possession claims.

3. Can I claim squatters rights if the property is not abandoned?
No, squatters rights can only be claimed if the property is abandoned or unclaimed by the owner. If the owner is actively using or maintaining the property, adverse possession cannot be claimed.

4. Can the true owner evict me during the 21-year period?
Yes, the true owner can attempt to evict you during the 21-year period. It is crucial to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and defend your claim if necessary.

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5. What if the property is inherited during the 21-year period?
If the property is inherited during the 21-year period, the clock is reset. The new owner will have to wait another 21 years before being able to claim squatters rights.

6. Can I claim squatters rights if I am renting the property?
No, if you are renting the property, you do not have the right to claim squatters rights. Adverse possession requires exclusive and continuous possession without permission.

7. Can I claim squatters rights if the property is fenced or secured?
Yes, you can still claim squatters rights even if the property is fenced or secured. However, it may be more challenging to prove your continuous possession in court.

In conclusion, claiming squatters rights in PA requires meeting specific criteria, conducting thorough research, and following the proper legal procedures. It is crucial to consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate law to ensure that you are well-informed and protected throughout the process.