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Squatters’ Rights are a form of Adverse Possession. If a squatter occupies your property for a certain period of time and meets the guidelines specified by Utah laws, then your property may legally become the squatter’s with no exchange of payment or a lease.

As a landlord, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with Squatters’ Rights in Utah to prevent that from happening.

What are Squatter’s Rights in Utah?

A squatter must possess your property for a certain amount of time in Utah for them to gain Squatters’ Rights. In Utah, a squatter must occupy your property for a period of seven years.

A squatter must also occupy your property in a specific way for them to have rights as a squatter.

1. Actual Occupation

The squatter must be physically present at the property. Additionally, they must treat it like they would if they were the actual property owner and not a tenant, so they do not need a lease or security deposit. But how can that be established? Well, through efforts by the squatter to beautify, maintain, and improve the property.

What’s more, in Utah, there are specific requirements for squatters claiming adverse possession of land. They must establish actual possession in either of the following three ways based on a written instrument.

• Cultivation or property improvement
• Addition of a substantial enclosure
• The land under occupation must be used in the supply of fencing timber, fuel for husbandry, or for the squatter’s personal use

utah squatters rights

In the absence of a written instrument, a squatter can establish actual possession by performing any of the following actions.

• Cultivation or property improvement
• Addition of a substantial enclosure
• Irrigation improvements costing at least $5 per acre

2. Hostile Claim

This is another requirement that is required under Adverse Possession. In property law, hostile takes another definition other than danger or violence. It takes three definitions: Simple Occupation, Awareness of Trespassing, and Good Faith Mistake.

Most states including Utah, however, follow the first definition: Simple Occupation. This one defines ‘hostile’ as a mere occupation of property. The trespasser doesn’t necessarily have to know that the property belongs to someone else.

3. Open & Notorious

A squatter making an Adverse Possession claim is required to make their occupation obvious to anyone. If they attempt to hide their occupation of the property, their claim to own the property legally would fail.

Even the actual owner should be able to tell that there is a squatter living there.

4. Exclusive Possession

Under Adverse Possession laws, a squatter is not to share the possession of the property with others if their claim is to be successful. Even sharing it with the landowner himself would lead to automatic disqualification.

5. Continuous Possession

A squatter must also be able to occupy the property for seven continuous years before making an adverse possession claim.

occupy utah property

This entire time must be uninterrupted. That is, the squatter cannot give up the property’s possession for some time, then return later to claim the period they were gone is still part of the seven years.

6. Color of Title

This is a term that you may have come across during your research into squatter’s rights. Color of title simply means that the ownership of a property isn’t regular. In other words, the owner of the property may be missing one or more of the required documents required for legal ownership.

In the state of Utah, squatters looking to own a property adversely are required to have color of title for the entire seven years of occupation.

7. Property Taxes

Squatters in Utah must also pay property taxes for all the seven required years of continuous occupation. In some other states, payment of property taxes helps reduce the required time for continuous occupation. This is, however, not the case in Utah.

How to Prevent Squatters from Entering Your Property

The following are some of the measures you can take to keep squatters at bay.

• Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for you when away
• Regularly inspect your Utah property
• Install motion detection cameras if you’re living far away from your property
• Put No Trespassing signs on the entry door
• Hire a property management company to monitor your property on a regular basis

How to Remove Squatters from Your Utah Rental Property

Utah doesn’t have any specific laws for removing squatters. Therefore, you must follow the judicial eviction process to get rid of a squatter.

removing squatters utah

Now, the judicial eviction process begins with an eviction notice. Unlike many other states, Utah does have a specific eviction notice for squatters. You must serve them a 5-Day Notice to Quit. The only option this notice gives them is to move out within the five days, or else eviction proceedings against them may continue.

If the squatter doesn’t move out after the 5 days are over, you can file an eviction with the county court. While the squatter may try and fight off the eviction, they have almost zero chances of succeeding. Unless, of course, they have a good legal reason or defense to be on the property.

If the judgment is in your favor, the court will give you a writ of restitution. This will be the squatter’s final notice to vacate the premises. If they don’t, the writ of restitution gives the sheriff powers to forcefully evict them.

If the squatter leaves some personal belongings behind after the eviction, you’ll have a responsibility to store it safely. The squatter will then have five days to retrieve the items without paying a storage fee.

If they don’t pick up their items after the 5 days are over, you can dispose them of in any manner you see fit.

Bottom Line

At Alliance Property Management, we’re well-versed in Utah laws. Keeping your property cared for and occupied by quality tenants is our number one priority. Get in touch with us to learn more about our range of property management services. We’ll be happy to customize a package for you.

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for legal advice, nor does it advertise being such. If you have any issues with the law pertaining to the management of your property, squatting laws, or anything else, please consult a professional attorney about these issues.