What are the legal ramifications of squatting?
Question Details: There is an abandoned property in our neighborhood that is owned by the bank. They haven't paid taxes in the last year our town doesn't do tax liens certificates and no one is maintaining the property. My son is currently considering cleaning it up, paying the back taxes and squatting in it. What could legally happen to him if the bank suddenly realizes they have the property. Can he go to jail? Will he be fined? Would he have any right to reimbursement for fixing it up? Is there anything we can do about the property without the banks help?
Squatting is illegal--period, and end of sentence. If the owner (e.g. the bank) realizes that someone is squatting the home, they can evict him (while keeping his improvements) and even press charges for trespassing. There is no right to reimbursement for repairs or renovations that you do without the other person's knowledge or consent--you can't simply unilaterally do something and demand that another pays you for this. Squatting will NOT give the right to property unless he successfully squats there for 15 years (the "adverse possession" time frame in your state). He can't get insurance to protect him or his belongings in a home he does not own. He can't use it as his legal address for any official purpose (e.g. if he has children, to enroll them in school). He can't even legally connect utilties, though it's possible the utiltiy won't trouble him for proof that he owns or leases the property Tell him not to do this--there are alot of downsides and no upside unless, as stated, the bank takes no action for 15 years and he's lucky enough to not need insurance during that entire time.