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The Basics of Squatters’ Rights and Adverse Possession in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Property law in Rhode Island and Massachusetts contains allowances for persons who are not in rightful possession of a piece of property to gain possession, or even title to the property if certain conditions are met. In Rhode Island, people squatting, or staying in an abandoned property without paying rent, utilities, or taxes may hold a certain right of possession to the property, and a Rhode Island eviction may be required to remove them from the property. Rental properties that are vacant and in need of renovations are among the most commonly targeted properties by squatters.

Rhode Island landlords and property owners should be careful to prevent squatters from taking residence in any unoccupied properties under their control. Physically securing any doors and windows to a property can prevent squatters from entry, and the display of no trespassing signs will discourage trespassers from taking residency in an abandoned or currently unused property. If squatters have taken up residence in an abandoned property, and the police have not found them to be committing a criminal trespass, then property owner should post a notice that the squatter(s) are in adverse possession of the property, and pursue a civil eviction of the squatters if they continue to refuse to leave

Under some circumstances, a squatter or other party in unlawful possession of a piece of property may be able to make a legal claim for title to the property. The claim, known as an adverse possession claim, is most commonly used to modify property boundaries between adjacent property owners. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently published a ruling in an adverse possession suit between neighbors.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case sued their neighbor in an effort to modify the property boundaries between their houses and take title to an approximately 492 square foot triangle of land that the plaintiffs had thought was part of their property until the defendants claimed otherwise. Because the natural geography of the land made the disputed area appear to be part of the plaintiff’s property, and finding that the plaintiffs had been caring for the property as if it were their own for over 20 years, the court agreed that the requirements for adverse possession were met by the plaintiffs and awarded the plaintiff title to the land.

Do You Need a Rhode Island Real Estate Lawyer?

If you are a property owner or landlord who is having an issue with squatters taking up residence on your property without paying rent, or if you are a property owner involved in a boundary dispute with a neighbor that may lead to an adverse possession claim, you may need the help of a skilled Rhode Island real estate attorney to resolve your issue. The qualified Rhode Island property attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC can help get the squatters out of your property legally, and as quickly as possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Bilodeau Capalbo to discuss your situation, contact our office at 401-300-4055 today. You can also visit us online.

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