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Finding out someone has broken into your vacant property and is living there is quite a shock! Trust me I know! Because of my experience I have learned how to deal with squatters.
The first thing you need to know about trespassers or squatters. There are rules and you must abide by the law because there are squatters rights in Colorado.
This article will go teach you how to deal with squatters including:
- First steps if a trespasser is present in your rental
- What not to do if you have squatters
- How to prevent squatters in Colorado.
If you need insight because you have a squatter that’s taken up residence in your house then keep reading.
Are squatters a problem in Colorado?
How to Deal with Squatters in Your Rental Property
Your first impulse, when finding out you have a potential squatter could be to just throw them out on the street. But you must be careful because squatters have rights in Colorado and in every state.
Property Owner With Squatters
“Recently I was notified of someone living in my rental property in Oceanside, just north of San Diego, CA. I called the police. They confronted the trespasser who claimed squatters rights. Because of this the police told me I needed to follow the eviction process for California I couldn’t just throw them out on the street and if I did I would be breaking the law. It was quite frustrating because I needed to sell my house fast but the eviction process was going to cause significant delays.”
Before you react you need to follow the steps below to make sure you don’t fall fowl of the law.
Step 1: Call The Police
The first step is to call the Police. Do this as soon as you know someone is in your building. Local law enforcement officers may simply remove them. This is if they are trespassers.
If they people that broke in claim squatters rights the police can’t remove them. At this point they officers can point you in the right directions.
Step 2: Start Evicting With Eviction Letter
If the police were not able to legally remove the squatter you must evict them. Each state has a different procedure. Make sure you are up on current laws. For example, a senate bill was passed that makes evicting squatters easier for property owners.
Typically the process starts with an eviction letter or eviction notices. This is the legal way to tell someone they need to leave – even if they are squatters without a lease!
Hopefully this will scare any squatters away. This would be ideal so you don’t have to take further action.
Of course, now you would take measures to prevent squatters entering your rental in the future.
Step 3: File A Civil Claim
If the squatter doesn’t leave you will need to file a civil claim. The civil claim will be filed in the local court. Each jurisdiction will have slightly different procedures. However the filing will ultimately get you in front of a judge to ask for permission to legally remove the squatter or squatters.
EXPERT INSIGHT: If you want to buy an apartment building be sure to check the premise is vacant. Also, before closing make sure the apartment building is secured. You don’t want to buy a multifamily only to find it is already filled with squatters. There are simple measures you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Step 4: Proceed With A Court-Ordered Eviction
The nest step is turning up in court. This is for the eviction hearing. There is a very good chance you will win the case. With a court ordered eviction in your pocket the squatters can now be legally removed.
What to Avoid When Removing Squatters from Your Rental Property
You have a court ordered eviction but you still have laws you must follow. Let’s dive into what you should not do when evicting squatters:
- Don’t throw out personal items — Squatters may leave stuff at your property. You will want to throw it all in the trash, right? Some states, might require you keep hold of squatters’ personal items. This will be for a certain length of time. This is because they may come back to collect them.
- Trying to evict squatters on your own — It is highly recommended to have the sheriff assist in removing the squatters. Don’t try to remove somebody force. You could get hurt. Worse, you might hurt the vagrant and end up being sued!. Certainly, DO NOT think about shutting off utilities because squatters have rights in Colorado and utilities is one of them whether you like it or not.
How Can You Prevent Squatters as a Landlord?
Preventing squatters is better than getting rid of them. And I can guarantee prevention i better, cheaper and faster than a cure. Here are some expert tips to stop them ever living in your house:
- Have someone go by the place often. Check for signs of entry or occupancy
- “No Trespassing” signs actually help. Make them extremely visible.
- Make friends with your property’s neighbors. They can let you know if anything is suspicious.
- Lock all windows and doors.
- Install an alarm or at least put up signs saying there is an alarm.
The Bottom Line
Having squatters in your rental property is not something you want to deal with. While you can’t just kick squatters out or turn of the utilities there is a process to remove them. Follow the four steps, starting with contacting law enforcement, and you will be able to rid yourself of them legally.