Squatter’s rights in Ohio 2023

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Squatter's rights in Ohio 2023

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This article defines how ‘squatting’ relates to land ownership in the United States. We will focus on Ohio squatter laws. A squatter illegally occupies a house, building, or land without the owner’s permission. Individual states choose what rights squatters have if any. Squatter’s rights about the law of adverse possession. Squatters may claim ownership if they follow the necessary criteria for adverse possession.

Wikipedia defines squatting in the United States as “the unauthorized use of the real estate. Squatting occurred during the California Gold Rush. Also, when European colonial settlers established land rights. There was squatting during the Great Depression in Hoovervilles and World War II. Shanty towns returned to the US after the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and in the 2010s. Increasing numbers of people squat in foreclosed homes using fraudulent documents. In some cases, a squatter may get property ownership through adverse possession.

Squatters rights in Ohio

Trespassers have no legal rights. If they do not leave when you ask them, you must call the authorities and pursue eviction. You must defend your ownership if the squatter claims a legal property right. Ohio squatter laws are like those in other states. If a squatter claims ownership, they may be able to prove adverse possession. If they have no claim of ownership, squatting is illegal, and they are trespassers. Alert the authorities and pursue eviction if necessary.  

The Ohio state code (Section 2305.04 | Recovery of real estate) states that “An action to recover the title to or possession of the real property shall be brought within twenty-one years after the cause of action accrued, but if a person entitled to bring the action is, at the time the cause of action accrues, within the age of minority or of unsound mind, the person, after the expiration of twenty-one years from the time the cause of action accrues, may bring the action within ten years after the disability is removed.”

Squatter laws in Ohio may require litigation to defend your ownership. A squatter may have “color of title.” Color of title means one has a claim of ownership with a document or other instrument. This instrument is defective or invalid. Litigation is necessary to prove the instrument is invalid or defective. 

Squatting laws Ohio mandates that a person provide evidence for their claim. A person must prove their reasons for their claim of adverse possession. Their occupancy must meet specific conditions. A  person must meet certain criteria to get a property by adverse possession in Ohio:

Before someone can take your property through adverse possession, they must meet the requirements. Ohio squatters rights do not violate the law. Adverse possession requires four distinct conditions. 

Squatter's rights in Ohio 2023

Exclusive Use

For adverse possession to occur, the squatter or disseisor must exercise exclusive use of the property as if it were their own.

In Bauer v. Harris, 617 N.E.2d 923 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993), the court held that exclusive use is an independent claim of right, a use which does not depend upon use by others; it does not mean a use which excludes others entirely.

USlegal.com defines it as: “Exclusive use refers to the primary or dominant use of property, as opposed to incidental use. Exclusive use is an essential element for a prescriptive easement. It is the right exercised by an adverse user independently of similar rights held by others. The exclusive right is something more than the degree of possession.”

Actual Possession

Most of us think that it means actual possession of the property. Actual possession means using or controlling a property. Clear evidence of possessing the property is making improvements and occupying the property. 

Open and Notorious

Open and notorious is the visible evidence of possessing property. The disseisor is the squatter that acquires ownership by adverse possession. The disseisor must not hide the use of the property from the disseisee. The occupying squatter must occupy in a way that isn’t hidden from the public or the legal owner. 

Possession must be actual, open, and notorious, of a kind that would notify others of the claim to the property. Open and notorious is further described by Cornell Law as “Open and Notorious. Possession must be obvious to anyone who bothers to look, to put the true owner on notice that a trespasser is in possession. One will not succeed with an adverse possession claim if it is secret.”


Hostile use of a property doesn’t imply confrontation. The definition of hostile means that a squatter’s use of a property opposes the original owner’s ownership. 

Continuous Use

Adverse possession can only take place if the squatter uses the property continuously. The period is the entire duration of the statute of limitations.

The person claiming the right to the property must exercise these four conditions. The conditions must exist continuously through the period mandated by the state’s squatter laws. Squatters’ rights in Ohio have similarities to many other states. Squatters must meet the conditions to gain ownership through adverse possession.

Squatter's rights in Ohio 2023

What is the reason for Adverse Possession?

Adverse possession fixes problems with titles that happen over time. Possession and using a property for the required time will disprove any false claims or fractured ownership.

Adverse possession is “a useful method for curing minor title defects.” A new owner occupies a parcel. One part of the parcel didn’t convey because of an error. Adverse possession allows the purchaser of the land to own the parcel, which they believe is the parcel they purchased from the seller.

Ownership goes to productive landowners rather than an absentee owners. The land has a better chance of development with a person on-site.

The adverse possessor places a high personal value on the land while the real title holder abandons it. The law seeks to award ownership to the person who values it most.

What are squatter’s rights in Ohio, and how do I prevent adverse possession?

Visit your property or hire someone to inspect your property. Going to the property is the main way to ensure that someone doesn’t claim ownership of your property. You must visit your site. Don’t allow someone to take ownership through adverse possession. Post no-trespassing signs along your parcel’s perimeter to inform the public of your wishes. Build a fence around your property for further security.

In conclusion

Squatting laws, Ohio says the period to take adverse possession is 21 years. Someone that occupies your property is a trespasser. Trespassing is illegal; trespassers have no legal rights. Trespassers who occupy a property and meet certain criteria may claim a right in the occupied property. Adverse possession is the law used to gain ownership. Owners and those with a claim on the title must litigate for a final decision.

Prevent claims on your property from adverse possession by visiting your property. Post no trespassing signs, and secure your property with fences. There is no substitute for site visits. If your property no longer suits you or you have no use for it, sell or lease it.

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