Squatters Rights

Squatters Rights Tennessee – Everything you need to know!

Are you wondering about the laws surrounding squatters in Tennessee and whether they have any rights? Squatting is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space without the owner’s consent.

In Tennessee, squatters do have rights to some extent, and there are specific laws in place to address the issue. Understanding these laws is essential for both property owners and potential squatters.

To avoid squatters in Tennessee, property owners should take proactive measures to secure their properties. This includes regular property inspections, securing all entry points, and promptly addressing any signs of potential squatting.

In this blog article, we will provide valuable tips and insights on dealing with squatters in Tennessee. This will include information on adverse possession claims, understanding squatters’ rights, and legal measures for getting rid of squatters.

Whether you are a property owner or someone dealing with potential squatting issues, our article will provide you with useful knowledge and resources to navigate this complex legal issue.

What are Squatters Rights in Tennessee?

Squatting refers to the act of occupying a property without the owner’s permission, and it’s crucial for both property owners and potential squatters to know their rights and obligations under Tennessee law.

Understanding Adverse Possession

One of the key aspects of squatters’ rights in Tennessee is the concept of adverse possession. This legal principle allows a person who has continuously occupied a piece of property for a certain period of time, typically seven years in Tennessee, to claim legal ownership of that property.

However, there are strict requirements and conditions that must be met in order to establish adverse possession, including open and notorious occupation, exclusive possession, and continuous use of the property.

Limitations on Squatters Rights

It’s important to note that squatters’ rights in Tennessee are not absolute, and there are limitations on the ability of squatters to claim legal ownership of a property.

For example, the property owner may take legal action to evict the squatter and regain possession of the property. Additionally, if the property owner pays property taxes on the disputed property, it can prevent adverse possession by the squatter.

Legal Remedies for Property Owners

Property owners in Tennessee have legal remedies available to them if they find themselves dealing with squatters on their property. These remedies may include filing a lawsuit for eviction, seeking an injunction to prevent the squatter from continuing to occupy the property, or pursuing legal action for damages resulting from the squatter’s occupation.

Consulting with Legal Professionals

Given the complexities and potential legal consequences associated with squatters’ rights in Tennessee, both property owners and individuals considering squatting on a property should seek the advice of legal professionals.

An experienced attorney can provide guidance on the relevant laws and legal options available to protect their rights and interests.

What are Squatters Rights in Tennessee

Squatting vs. Trespassing in Tennessee

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.

Difference between Squatting and Trespassing

While both squatting and trespassing involve unauthorized presence on a property, the key difference lies in the intent.

Squatting typically involves a person taking up residence in a vacant property with the intention of establishing some form of legal right to the property, whereas trespassing usually involves a person simply being present on someone else’s property without permission.

Penalties for Squatting in Tennessee

In Tennessee, squatting is considered a criminal offense. Individuals found guilty of squatting can face misdemeanor charges, which may result in fines and possible imprisonment.

Additionally, property owners have the right to initiate eviction proceedings against squatters through the legal system.

Penalties for Trespassing in Tennessee

Trespassing in Tennessee is treated as a criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances, trespassing can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties for trespassing may include fines, probation, or jail time, particularly if the trespasser has a history of similar offenses.

How Do Squatters Claim Adverse Possession in Tennessee?

Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to claim ownership of land that is not legally theirs, provided certain conditions are met.

In Tennessee, this law is dictated by the Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) sections 28-2-101 to 28-2-112.

In Tennessee, squatters can claim adverse possession by openly occupying a piece of land for a certain period of time and meeting other legal requirements.

Continuous and Notorious Possession

In Tennessee, squatters must openly and continuously possess the land for a period of at least 7 years. This means they must use the land as if they were the true owner, without attempting to hide their occupation from the public or the rightful owner.

Hostile and Adverse Claim

The squatter’s possession must be hostile and adverse to the rights of the true owner. This means that the squatter’s occupation must be without the permission of the true owner and in a manner that is inconsistent with the owner’s rights.

The occupation must also be exclusive, meaning that the squatter cannot share possession of the land with the true owner or anyone else.

Payment of Property Taxes

In Tennessee, squatters seeking adverse possession must pay property taxes on the land they are occupying for at least 7 years. This demonstrates their intention to claim ownership of the land and is an essential element of the adverse possession claim.

Evicting Squatters in Tennessee: How to Get Rid of Squatters in Tennessee

In Tennessee , squatters have certain rights, including the right to due process and the right to a hearing before they can be evicted.

This means that you cannot simply throw squatters out of your property without following the proper legal procedures.

How to Evict Squatters in Tennessee?

Evicting squatters in Tennessee involves a legal process that typically begins with serving a notice to quit. This notice informs the squatter that they must vacate the property within a specified time frame, usually 10 days. If the squatter fails to comply, the property owner can file an unlawful detainer action in court.

Unlawful Detainer Action

An unlawful detainer action is a legal proceeding in which the property owner seeks to regain possession of the property from the squatter.

The court will hold a hearing to determine if the squatter has any legal right to occupy the property.

If the court finds in favor of the property owner, it will issue a writ of possession, which authorizes the sheriff to remove the squatter from the property.

Latest News Update, April 16,2024:

Tennessee Senate Takes Aim at Streamlining Squatter Eviction

There’s a potential development for landlords in Tennessee facing squatter issues. The Tennessee Senate recently passed House Bill 1259, which proposes to empower county sheriffs to remove squatters after serving them a notice. This bill, if enacted, could significantly impact how these situations are handled.

Current Hurdles for Landlords

Under current Tennessee law, squatters have no legal right to occupy a property. However, removing them traditionally requires a court-ordered eviction. This process can be lengthy and expensive, creating a burden for homeowners.

House Bill 1259 would authorize county sheriffs to remove squatters after a proper notice period. This could significantly reduce the time and cost associated with evictions.

Important Caveats

It’s important to note that House Bill 1259 is still in the legislative process and hasn’t become law yet. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, landlords will likely still need to rely on the court system for squatter eviction.

Recommendations for Landlords

Even with the proposed bill, consulting with a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law is highly recommended. An attorney can advise you on the current eviction process, the potential impact of House Bill 1259 if passed, and ensure your actions comply with all legal requirements.

Defenses to Eviction

In some cases, squatters may have defenses to eviction. These defenses may include:

  • Adverse possession: If the squatter has met the requirements for adverse possession, they may have a legal right to the property.
  • Lease agreement: If the squatter has a valid lease agreement with the property owner, they cannot be evicted until the lease expires.
  • Retaliatory eviction: If the property owner is evicting the squatter in retaliation for exercising their legal rights, the eviction may be considered retaliatory and unlawful.

How to Protect Your Property from Squatters in Tennessee

The best way to prevent squatters is to take steps to secure your property. This may include:

  • Installing security cameras and motion sensor lights.
  • Posting “No Trespassing” signs.
  • Regularly inspecting your property for signs of squatting.

Evicting squatters can be a complex and time-consuming process. If you are dealing with a squatter situation, it is important to consult with an attorney to discuss your options and protect your rights.

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

1. Secure Your Property

The first step in protecting your property from squatters is to make it as difficult as possible for them to access. This means securing all entrances to your property, including doors, windows, and gates. You should also consider installing a security system or motion-activated lights.

2. Post No Trespassing Signs

Another way to deter squatters is to post no trespassing signs on your property. These signs should be placed in conspicuous locations, such as the front gate, driveway, and property line.

The signs should state that trespassing is prohibited and that violators will be prosecuted.

3. Keep Your Property Well-Maintained

Squatters are more likely to target properties that appear to be abandoned or neglected. Therefore, it is important to keep your property well-maintained. This includes mowing the lawn, trimming the trees, and repairing any damage to the property.

4. Be Aware of Your Property

One of the best ways to protect your property from squatters is to be aware of what is happening on your property.

This means regularly inspecting your property for signs of squatting, such as people living in tents or campers, or unauthorized construction. If you see any signs of squatting, you should contact the police immediately.

5. Take Legal Action

If you discover that someone is squatting on your property, you can take legal action to remove them.

This process is known as an eviction. In Tennessee, you can file an eviction lawsuit in the county where the property is located.

The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether the person is squatting on your property. If the court finds that the person is squatting, they will order the person to vacate the property.

How Much Does it Cost to Evict a Squatter in Tennessee

The cost of evicting a squatter in Tennessee can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, there are some general costs that can be expected.

Filing Fees

The first step in evicting a squatter is to file a complaint with the court. The filing fee for a complaint in Tennessee is $150. In addition, there may be other fees associated with filing the complaint, such as a process server fee or a fee for a certificate of service.

Attorney Fees

If you choose to hire an attorney to represent you in the eviction process, you will need to pay attorney fees. The cost of attorney fees can vary depending on the attorney’s experience and the complexity of the case. However, you can expect to pay at least $500 for an attorney to represent you in an eviction case.

Court Costs

In addition to filing fees and attorney fees, you may also be responsible for court costs. Court costs can include the cost of serving the complaint on the squatter, the cost of a hearing, and the cost of a judgment. The amount of court costs that you will be responsible for will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Other Costs

There may be other costs associated with evicting a squatter, such as the cost of changing the locks on your property or the cost of cleaning up the property after the squatter has been evicted. The amount of these costs will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Expense Category Estimated Cost Notes
Filing Fees $100 – $150 Varies by county; for filing the eviction lawsuit in court
Service of Process Fees $20 – $100 Fee to have the squatter formally served with legal papers
Attorney Fees $400 – $5,000+ Depending on complexity; may include consultations
Court Costs Vary Any additional costs associated with the court proceedings
Locksmith Services $75 – $200 To change locks once the eviction is complete
Law Enforcement Fees $0 – $100 Some jurisdictions charge for sheriff’s deputies’ involvement
Damages & Repairs Varies Dependent on condition squatter leaves the property in
Lost Rental Income Subjective to rental value Income lost during the period the squatter occupied the unit


In total, the cost of evicting a squatter in Tennessee can range from a few $500 to to $10,000. The specific costs will depend on the factors discussed above.

How To Claim Squatters Rights In Tennessee

To claim squatters rights in Tennessee, you must meet the following requirements:

Key Requirements in Tennessee

To successfully claim adverse possession in Tennessee, the squatter must meet specific criteria:

Time: Continuously occupy the property for a certain time frame. Tennessee requires either:

  • 20 years: This is the standard requirement.
  • 7 years: This applies if the squatter has “color of title,” meaning they possess a document that, while flawed, suggests ownership (like a mistakenly issued deed).

Possession: The squatter must act like the owner, exercising control over the property. This might involve:

  • Living on the property
  • Maintaining the property
  • Paying property taxes

Open, Notorious, and Continuous Occupation

The occupancy must be:

  • Open: Not secretive. The squatter shouldn’t hide their presence.
  • Notorious: Public knowledge in the community that someone is living there.
  • Continuous: Uninterrupted occupation throughout the required time period.

Taxes and Potential Defenses

  • Paying property taxes strengthens the squatter’s claim.

FAQs about Squatters Right in Tennessee

Here are some of the most asked questions.

What are the legal consequences of squatting in Tennessee?

Squatting in Tennessee is a civil offense, and the legal consequences can vary depending on the circumstances.

In general, the owner of the property can file a lawsuit against the squatter to recover possession of the property.

The squatter may also be liable for damages to the property and any unpaid rent or property taxes.

What are the defenses to a squatter’s rights claim in Tennessee?

There are several defenses that a property owner can raise in response to a squatter’s rights claim in Tennessee:

  • Lack of possession: The property owner can argue that the squatter did not have actual, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and adverse possession of the property.
  • Permission to occupy: The property owner can argue that the squatter had permission to occupy the property, either orally or in writing.
  • Estoppel: The property owner can argue that the squatter is estopped from asserting a claim to the property because of their own conduct or representations.
  • Adverse possession: The property owner can argue that they have acquired title to the property through adverse possession.

Conclusion: Squatters Right in Tennessee

We have discussed what squatting laws are in Tennessee and whether squatters have rights in the state. We have also provided tips on how to avoid squatters in Tennessee. In addition, we have shared information on squatters, adverse possession claims, and how to get rid of squatters.

We concluded that, In Tennessee, someone can potentially take ownership of land they’ve occupied without permission for a long time. This is called adverse possession.

There are two main time requirements:

  • Standard: Occupy the property for 20 years continuously.
  • Faster Track: Occupy for 7 years with a document suggesting ownership (even if it’s wrong).

If you discover that someone is squatting on your property, it is important to take action immediately. You should contact the police and file a complaint.

You may also need to file a lawsuit to evict the squatters. The process of evicting squatters can be long and expensive, so it is important to take action as soon as possible.

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!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button