Everything You Should Know About Squatters' Rights: Indiana

This comprehensive guide is designed to equip you with all the information necessary to safeguard your property from squatters in Indiana. Covering everything from the specifics of adverse possession to effective strategies for preventing squatting, you'll acquire the essential insights needed to avoid and respond to one of the most significant legal challenges landlords face.

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
February 13, 2024
Everything You Should Know About Squatters' Rights: Indiana

Stumbling upon someone residing in your property without permission is an alarming situation for any Indiana landlord. These incidents, which are more common than you might think, present a complex array of challenges, requiring a thorough understanding of the intricacies of Indiana's adverse possession laws and squatters' rights.

Squatters are individuals who occupy a vacant property without the approval of the property owner. These unsanctioned residents may assert rights over the property through adverse possession claims, creating significant legal obstacles for the legal owner.

To get a handle on squatter's rights in The Hoosier State, keep reading. This guide is crafted to provide you with the knowledge needed to protect your investment and assert your legal rights as the owner.

Indiana adverse possession laws: Basic requirements

For a squatter to claim adverse possession and gain legal ownership of an Indiana property, they must do both of the following:

  • Occupy the property or land for at least 10 continuous years.
  • Pay property taxes for 10 consecutive years.

Unlike other states, Indiana does not require squatters to have a "Color of Title" to make an adverse possession claim.

In addition to occupation and property tax requirements, they must meet four additional requirements as established by the Indiana Supreme Court. Those requirements include notice, duration, intent, and control. It's important to note that these requirements are called hostile possession, exclusive possession, continuous possession, actual possession, and open and notorious possession in other states.

  1. Notice: Squatters must communicate their intentions to the property owner via a formal notice. In this case, their possession must be visible and noticeable.
  2. Duration: This form of adverse possession requires the squatter to meet Indiana's requirements of inhabiting the property for 10 consecutive years.
  3. Intent: The squatter must demonstrate intent to claim full ownership of the property.
  4. Control: The squatter must exhibit total and sole control of someone else's property, meaning they have actual and exclusive possession.

Does Indiana allow for "tacking"?

"Tacking" refers to the legal concept where successive periods of adverse possession by different individuals may be combined or "tacked" on to meet the required period for an adverse possession claim.

Indiana permits tacking. In Indiana, occupation of a property for a minimum of 10 years is required to lodge an adverse possession claim. This duration can be achieved by adding together the occupancy periods of previous occupants, provided there is a privity of estate or a legal relationship, among them.

Preventing adverse possession: 5 tips for property owners

Taking proactive steps is essential for protecting your property from squatters and maintaining undisputed ownership, particularly when the property is not in use. By staying vigilant, you can create a strong defense that significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized occupancy.

  1. Keep a visual record: Property owners should regularly capture photos or videos of their property. This visual evidence can be pivotal in legal scenarios, demonstrating that no unauthorized enhancements, such as landscaping or structural repairs, have been made to the property.
  2. Conduct frequent property checks: Routinely inspecting your vacant property can help you identify squatters early on. These checks are critical in asserting your active ownership of the property and allow for immediate action against any threats.
  3. Build a network with neighbors: Cultivating friendly rapport with your property’s neighbors can serve as an informal surveillance system. Neighbors can be invaluable in monitoring for suspicious activities or unknown individuals on your premises.
  4. Secure the perimeter: Erecting fences and displaying clear signage like “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” are straightforward, yet powerful deterrents against squatting attempts.
  5. Initiate legal proceedings promptly: Once an intruder is identified, it's imperative to take immediate legal action. This may involve seeking legal counsel to understand your options and potentially initiating eviction proceedings.

Procedures for landlords to challenge squatters in Indiana

If a squatter makes an adverse possession claim on your property, there are specific steps you must follow to effectively and legally reclaim your property. We cover this step-by-step process in detail below.

Initiating an eviction process

Like most states, the first step to remove squatters from vacant properties in Indiana is to serve them with an eviction notice. The eviction notices a property owner can serve include:

  • Immediate eviction: Landlords may immediately begin eviction proceedings if the squatter is found committing crimes or prostitution on the property premises.
  • 10-day notice to pay rent: If the squatter does not comply and pay rent within a 10-day period, the property owner can proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit with the local court.
  • 45-day notice to quit: If squatters have committed any illegal acts, such as illegal drug activity, the landlord may serve them a 45-day notice to quit. If the squatter does not vacate the property in that time, the landlord may file for eviction.

You can learn more about Indiana's eviction laws here.

Engaging with law enforcement

Should a squatter display uncooperative behavior, pose danger to you or the other tenants, or engage in unlawful activities, you may need to contact local law enforcement. Although local authorities and officers might not have the authority to evict the squatter without a court order, they can aid in preserving the peace or evaluating any criminal actions.

It's always recommended to keep a record of interactions with law enforcement, as this documentation could become vital proof in the event of legal proceedings.

Legal avenues for reclaiming possession of the property

Beyond eviction, there is additional legal assistance landlords can utilize. For instance, they may pursue a lawsuit for trespassing, which may be more effective than an eviction in certain cases of squatting. Learn more about the differences between squatters and trespassers to determine which option may be right for you.

Indiana also provides legally disabled property owners (someone who is a minor, imprisoned, or incompetent) two years after their disability is lifted to take legal action and get their property back, even if the continuous possession period ended.

Regardless of your path, hiring a qualified attorney who specializes in local property laws and squatter rights in Indiana may be necessary.

Potential court procedures, costs, and timelines

Property owners need to be ready for the possibility of eviction proceedings moving to the legal system, familiarizing themselves with the associated legal procedures, expenses, and potential timelines.

The lawsuit will adhere to Indiana's distinct legal procedures, but regardless of the state, the process follows three phases: lodging the legal complaint, notifying the squatter, and anticipating the scheduling of a court hearing. Expenses incurred might range from the costs of filing to compensating a legal representative.

The duration of the legal process can differ based on the particulars of the case and the court's current caseload. By being proactive and well-versed in Indiana law, landlords and property owners can facilitate the progression of the case.

Special provisions or exceptions

When discussing adverse possession laws in Indiana, it's crucial to understand unique property regulations and exceptions.

Property boundaries

Ambiguous property lines can create legal complications for landlords in Indiana. Neglecting a part of their property because of unclear boundaries or a lack of awareness opens the door for squatters to assert a claim through adverse possession. Clearly marking property limits is a proactive step that can deter squatters from fulfilling the criteria needed to stake a legal claim on the land.

Rules for government-owned land

Government-owned properties are subject to a different set of rules and more detailed squatting laws in India than private properties. Squatters may attempt to gain ownership of private lands through an adverse possession claim, but claiming legal ownership of government-owned property is usually extremely difficult (if not impossible), as they would need to remain in the building or on the land for 10 continuous years.

Maintaining and reclaiming property ownership in Indiana

Armed with this vital knowledge, you're now well-prepared to maintain rightful ownership of your property effectively. Understanding the specifics of adverse possession — the necessity for squatters to use the property openly, continuously, and exclusively for 10 years — is crucial in discerning the legal implications and nuances of squatting in Indiana.

For property owners in The Hoosier State, ensuring the security of your property rights is straightforward: stay vigilant and take action when needed. Regular check-ins on your property, keeping rental agreements clear and current, and responding swiftly to any unauthorized use of your property with the help of legal professionals are key measures to prevent squatter claims.

By keeping yourself informed, you can safeguard your property's legal title and guarantee your investment is successful.

Indiana squatters' rights FAQs

What's the difference between holdover tenants and squatters?

A holdover tenant, otherwise known as a "tenant at sufferance," is a renter who continues to occupy a rental property longer than the expiration of their lease. With the property owner's consent, these tenants can remain on the premises, paying rent at the same rate and under the conditions of the lapsed lease agreement.

However, if the landlord issues a notice to vacate and the holdover tenant fails to leave within the designated period, they may face potential legal repercussions. After receiving a notice to vacate, these individuals can no longer make an adverse possession claim, as they are now considered trespassers.

What are the adverse possession requirements in Indiana?

To gain ownership of a property through adverse possession, Indiana squatters must occupy a property or land and pay property taxes for at least 10 continuous years. However, occupation of the property must also meet four additional requirements: control, intent, duration, and notice, which we explain in further detail above.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

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