WTVM 3/22/13 Editorial: Understanding squatters’ rights

WTVM 3/22/13 Editorial: Understanding squatters’ rights
Published: Mar. 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jan. 2, 2015 at 8:32 PM EST
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(WTVM) - As the housing market continues to rebound in the valley, many homes remain vacant as homeowners look to sell or rent them.

But there's a law on the books that you may not be aware of. A law that allows someone to move into your home, and depending on how they do it they can gain ownership of your property without giving you a penny.

They're called squatters rights or "adverse possession' laws and most states, including Georgia and Alabama have them.

Residents of one Columbus community contacted our news team recently to tell us squatters had moved into a vacant home in their neighborhood.

Although the woman says she has permission to be there, the owner – who now lives out of town – says he doesn't know her and has hired a property manager to get her removed from "his" home.

In Georgia if a home is vacant and unattended and someone moves in and makes improvements to the home, after 7 years they can lay claim to the property.

Alabama has no specific laws recognizing squatters but under "adverse possession" laws someone can gain ownership of a property if they pay the taxes on it for ten years.

Bottom line, if you've got vacant property, you need to make sure someone is keeping an eye on it. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending a lot of time and money fighting to get your own property back.

General Manager Lee Brantley brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906

Copyright 2013 WTVM. All rights reserved.