Squatters Rights

Squatters Rights Maine: How to Get Rid of Them!

Are you aware of the squatting laws in Maine and whether squatters have legal rights in the state? Squatting laws in Maine refer to the rules pertaining to unauthorized occupation of someone else’s property. Squatters in Maine do have certain rights, it is important for property owners to understand.

Squatters Rights Maine

In this blog articles, we will share tips on dealing with squatters, adverse possession laws in Maine, and how to legally get rid of squatters in Maine.

We aim to provide valuable information and resources to help property owners understand their rights.

Key Points:

  • Landlords can evict squatters in Maine by filling standard eviction.
  • In Maine, color of title is not required to claim adverse possession.
  • Continuous squatting for 20 years may lead to ownership claims on an unoccupied property.
  • Paying taxes is a must for claiming adverse possession on undeveloped, unincorporated land.

What are Squatters Rights in Maine

In Maine, squatter’s rights are a set of laws that allows individuals to claim ownership of abandoned or unoccupied properties if they have openly and continuously occupied them for 20 years. In Maine, the laws governing adverse possession can typically be found under Title 14, Part 7, Chapter 713 of the Maine Revised Statutes. The specific section that outlines the requirements for adverse possession is 14 M.R.S.A. § 801.

For someone to claim adverse possession in Maine, certain conditions must be met:

1. Hostile Claim: The possession of the property must be without the permission of the owner, essentially against the owner’s right to the property.

2. Actual Possession: The squatter must physically be present on the land, treating it as their own.

3. Exclusive Possession: The possession cannot be shared with strangers or the owner; it must be held by the squatter alone.

4. Open and Notorious: The squatter’s possession must be obvious enough that it would give the actual owner notice of the adverse claim if the owner inspected the property.

5. Continuous and Uninterrupted: The squatter must meet Maine’s time requirement for continuous possession, which is 20 years.

If all these conditions are satisfied over the continuous period of 20 years, the squatter can seek to gain legal title through a legal process known as a quiet title action. This court procedure resolves disputes regarding the ownership of real property and can definitively establish an individual’s right to ownership.

Squatting vs. Trespassing in Maine

Squatting is the act of unlawfully occupying an uninhabited building or unused land without the owner’s permission.

While Trespassing, on the other hand, is entering someone else’s property without authorization or staying on the property after being asked to leave.

In Maine, squatting is considered a civil matter, while trespassing is a criminal offense. The key difference lies in the nature of the property and the legal implications of each action.

Penalties for Squatting

In Maine, the penalties for squatting can vary depending on the specific circumstances. Generally, if the property owner discovers someone squatting on their property, they can initiate legal proceedings to have the squatter evicted. The squatter may also be liable for any damages caused to the property.

Penalties for Trespassing

Trespassing in Maine is considered a criminal offense and can result in both fines and potential jail time, depending on the severity of the trespass. For example, entering someone’s property with the intent to commit a crime can lead to more severe penalties than simply walking onto private property without permission.

Squatters Rights Maine

How Do Squatters Claim Adverse Possession in Maine

While meeting the residency requirements is crucial, claiming adverse possession in Maine goes beyond simply waiting 20 years. Here’s a general outline of the process after meeting the occupancy requirements:

1. Seek legal counsel: An attorney specializing in real estate law is vital. They can assess your specific situation, advise on any weaknesses in your claim, and guide you through the legal process.

2. Gather evidence: Your lawyer will help compile documentation proving your occupancy. This may include:

  • Affidavits from neighbors or people familiar with your residence on the property for 20 years.
  • Utility bills, receipts, or other documents showing continuous use of the property.
  • Proof of any improvements made to the property during your occupancy.

3. File an adverse possession lawsuit: Your lawyer will file a lawsuit against the legal owner of the property in the appropriate Maine court. The lawsuit will ask the court to recognize your ownership rights through adverse possession.

4. Serve the lawsuit on the legal owner: The legal owner will have the opportunity to respond to the lawsuit and contest your claim.

5. Possible court hearing: If the legal owner contests your claim, a court hearing will be held where both parties present evidence. Your lawyer will represent you in court and argue why you’ve met the requirements for adverse possession.

6. Court decision: The judge will issue a decision based on the evidence presented. If successful, the court will grant you legal ownership of the property.

How to Evict Squatters in Maine?

To evict squatters in Maine, property owners typically need to follow legal procedures outlined in state law. First, serve them with a written notice to vacate the property. If they don’t leave voluntarily, file a lawsuit for eviction in court. Provide evidence that you’re the rightful owner and that the squatters are unlawfully occupying the property. The court will then issue an eviction order if the case is decided in your favor.

The process for evicting squatters in Maine is as follows:

1. Serve a Notice to Quit. The first step is to serve the squatters with a Notice to Quit. This notice must be in writing and must state that the squatters have a certain amount of time (usually 10 days) to vacate the property.

(A Notice to Quit is a formal document served to squatters, informing them that they must vacate the property within a specified period, before further legal action is taken.)

2. File a Complaint with the Court. If the squatters do not vacate the property after being served with a Notice to Quit, you can file a complaint with the court. The complaint must state that the squatters are trespassing on your property and that you are seeking an order to evict them.

3. Attend a Court Hearing. After you file a complaint, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence to support your claim that the squatters are trespassing on your property. The squatters will also have the opportunity to present evidence in their defense.

4. Obtain a Judgment. If the court finds that the squatters are trespassing on your property, it will issue a judgment in your favor. The judgment will order the squatters to vacate the property within a certain amount of time.

5. Enforce the Judgment. If the squatters do not vacate the property after being ordered to do so by the court, you can enforce the judgment by having the sheriff remove them from the property.

Defenses to Eviction

There are a number of defenses that squatters can raise in an eviction action. Some of the most common defenses include:

1. Adverse possession. Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to acquire title to property by possessing it openly, notoriously, exclusively, and continuously for a period of time (usually 20 years in Maine).

2. License to occupy. A license to occupy is a permission granted by the owner of a property to another person to occupy the property for a specific purpose. If a squatter can show that they have a license to occupy the property, they may be able to avoid eviction.

3. Estoppel. In the context of squatters in Maine, estoppel could potentially arise if the property owner has previously allowed the squatters to occupy the property without objection, leading the squatters to believe they have the right to do so.

How to Protect Your Property from Squatters in Maine

Here is the step by step process to protect your property from squatters in Maine:

1. Post “No Trespassing” Signs

Maine law requires that you post “No Trespassing” signs on your property. These signs must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches and must be placed in conspicuous locations around the perimeter of your property. The signs must also state the name of the owner of the property and the phone number of the local law enforcement agency.

2. Maintain Your Property

One of the best ways to deter squatters is to keep your property well-maintained. This means mowing the lawn, trimming the trees, and repairing any damage to the property. A well-maintained property is less likely to attract squatters because it will be more difficult for them to live on the property without being noticed.

3. Install Security Measures

You can also install security measures to deter squatters. These measures can include motion sensor lights, security cameras, and alarms. You can also install a fence around your property to make it more difficult for squatters to access the property.

4. Be Aware of Your Property

It is important to be aware of your property and to regularly inspect it for signs of squatters. If you see any signs of squatters, such as people living on the property without your permission or people dumping trash on the property, you should contact the local law enforcement agency immediately.

How Much Does it Cost to Evict a Squatter in Maine

The cost of evicting a squatter in Maine can vary depending on several factors, including the length of time the squatter has been in possession of the property, the legal fees associated with the eviction process, and any damages that need to be repaired.

Cost Type Estimated Cost ($) Remarks
Court Filing Fees 100$ Filing for a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) action.
Process Serving Fees 50 – 100 Delivering legal eviction notice to the squatter.
Attorney Fees 500 – 5000 May vary wildly based on case complexity.
Loss of Rent Variable Income lost during the period the squatter occupies space.
Property Damage Repairs Variable Post-eviction repair costs for any damage caused.
Additional Legal Expenses Variable Other costs such as motions, hearings, etc.
Locksmith and Changing Locks 100 – 300 Securing the property after eviction.

How To Claim Squatters Rights In Maine

To successfully claim squatters’ rights in Maine, you must meet specific legal requirements known as adverse possession.

1. Understand Adverse Possession Laws in Maine

Maine Revised Statutes Title 33, Chapter 12, Section 471 governs adverse possession in the state. It outlines the conditions that must be met for a person to successfully claim title to real property through adverse possession.

2. Establish Open and Notorious Possession

To claim squatters rights in Maine, you must demonstrate open and notorious possession of the property. This means that your possession must be visible, obvious, and unequivocal.

You must act as the owner of the property, exercising control over it in a manner that would put a reasonable person on notice that you are claiming it as your own.

3. Prove Continuous Possession for 20 Years

In Maine, the adverse possession period is 20 years. This means that you must possess the property continuously and uninterrupted for at least 20 years to establish a valid claim. Any breaks in your possession, even for a short period, will reset the clock.

4. Pay Property Taxes and Maintain the Property

During the 20-year adverse possession period, you must pay all property taxes assessed on the property. You must also maintain the property in a reasonable condition. Failure to do so could jeopardize your claim.

5. File a Quiet Title Action

Once you have met all of the requirements for adverse possession, you can file a quiet title action in court. This is a legal proceeding in which you ask the court to declare that you are the rightful owner of the property. The court will review the evidence you have presented and make a determination.

Squatters Rights Maine

FAQs about Squatters Right in Maine

Here are some of the most asked questions.

What are the penalties for squatting in Maine?

Squatting in Maine is a criminal offense. A person convicted of squatting can be fined up to $1,000 and/or sentenced to up to 364 days in jail.

What can I do if I am being harassed by a squatter?

If you are being harassed by a squatter, you should contact the police. The police can investigate the situation and take appropriate action, such as arresting the squatter or issuing a restraining order.

Conclusion: Squatters Right in Maine

We have discussed “What are Squatting Laws in Maine? Do squatters have rights in Maine?”. We have also talked about “How to avoid squatters in Maine?”. In this article, we have shared tips on Squatters, Adverse Possession Claim, how to get rid of squatters, etc.

If you want to avoid squatters, you should take steps to secure your property. This includes posting “No Trespassing” signs, installing security cameras, and keeping your property well-maintained.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. For specific situations, consult a Maine property lawyer.

We hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.


Squatters Rights California

Adam Bothun

Hey there, I'm Adam Bothun, a lawyer focusing on property law, especially stuff like "Squatters Rights" and related matters. Through my website, I aim to simplify the often confusing world of property rights and legal disputes. With years in the field, I've learned a thing or two about helping folks understand their rights and fight for fairness. Stick around, and let's navigate this legal maze together!

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