A squatter is an individual who takes up residence in a building or on a piece of land without the legal permission of the property owner. In some cases, squatters may gain legal ownership of the property through the process of adverse possession, which is when a squatter meets certain requirements and presents their case in court. However, New Jersey has strict adverse possession laws that require a squatter to have possessed the property for 30 years.
It is important for landlords to distinguish between authorized tenants and unauthorized occupants, such as squatters, to properly address the situation. In the event of a squatter, landlords should not engage in self-help such as forcibly removing. Landlords can also protect their property from squatters by visiting and inspecting the property regularly, maintaining a regular maintenance schedule, and exchanging contact information with neighbors.
In cases where unauthorized family members are occupying the property as co-tenants with the authorized tenant, landlords may use the legal process of ejectment to remove them. Ejectment involves filing a lawsuit, attending court hearings, and having the county sheriff lock out the unauthorized occupants. Landlords who win an ejectment lawsuit are entitled to damages, court costs, and attorney fees.
It is important for landlords to be cautious when dealing with squatters, as they have certain rights in New Jersey. The ejectment process can be complicated, so landlords are advised to consult a local attorney who is knowledgeable about squatter’s rights in the state. Call us now at 732-490-1777!