Squatters Rights in Colorado

A squatter is someone who occupies a property without permission from the legal owner. In Colorado, squatters have the ability to acquire legal rights to a property through a procedure called adverse possession. This article provides a basic understanding of the adverse possession process and squatters’ rights in Colorado.

Squatting vs. Trespassing

Not all individuals who trespass are considered squatters, but all squatters are trespassers. The distinction lies in time and purpose. Trespassers are individuals who only stay on a property for a short period and do not aim to legally own the property. However, squatters aim to take possession of an empty property by residing there consistently. In order to be classified as a squatter, an individual must reside on the property for a consistent and unbroken duration.

How Do Squatters Claim Adverse Possession in Colorado?

Colorado, like many other states, has a list of legal requirements that squatters need to meet to claim adverse possession. The following requirements are included:

Actual Possession

To claim adverse possession, the individual must physically occupy the property. This implies that they must physically occupy and utilize the land as if they were the legitimate owner.

Public and well-known ownership

The squatter must openly and clearly possess the property without trying to conceal their occupation from the rightful owner. In simpler terms, the owner should notice if someone is using their land as any reasonable property owner would.

Exclusive Possession

The squatter must be the only person living on the property, with no legal owner or general public present. When two squatters occupy the same property, adverse possession cannot occur.

Continuous Possession

The squatter needs to maintain uninterrupted possession for a certain duration. Therefore, the squatter must consistently occupy the land without long periods of absence. In Colorado, the typical time frame is around eighteen years, but under specific conditions, it can be as short as seven years.

Hostile Possession

The possession needs to be aggressive. Here, the term “hostile” suggests that the squatter is using the land without the owner’s consent.

Claim of Right

To claim adverse possession, the squatter must prove their rightful ownership of the property. It might stem from a misunderstanding of property boundaries, a legal paper, or another valid reason.

Property Tax Payment

At times, squatters might need to cover property tax for the land they are living on. This requirement differs depending on the jurisdiction.

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How To Evict Squatters in Colorado?

Removing a squatter in Colorado involves adhering to the legal procedures specified by the state’s regulations. It is not possible for a landlord to forcefully remove a squatter. Trying to do so could actually make it more difficult for the landlord to evict the squatter through legal means. Here are the typical steps involved in properly evicting a squatter:

1. Determine Ownership

To start the process of removing a squatter in Colorado, you need to be able to demonstrate your ownership of the property. This may require submitting documents such as property deeds or titles.

2. Communicate With the Squatter

Next, inform the individual occupying the property that they are trespassing. Try to clearly communicate with the squatter and let them know they are on the property without permission.

3. Serve a Notice to Quit

Provide the squatter with a “Notice to Quit” or “Demand for Possession” letter. The notice notifies the squatter that they need to vacate the property within a set time period, usually 3 to 5 days.

4. File an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit

If the individual occupying the property does not vacate after the specified notice period, you have the option to initiate legal action by filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit in the relevant court. This legal action aims to recover possession of the property.

5. Attend Court Proceedings

Make sure to go to the court hearing and show proof that you own the property and that the person living there is not supposed to be there. If the court rules in your favor, they will issue a Writ of Restitution, enabling law enforcement to evict the squatter from the property.

6. Wait for the Sherrif to Enforce the Eviction

Local law enforcement officers will physically remove the squatter from the property to complete the eviction process.

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