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Tenant Squatting Issues in Minnesota: Everything You Need to Know About Squatters Rights

Landlord-tenant issues are complex and can get messy fast. If you’re a professional landlord in need of expert legal advice, consider contacting Minnesota’s finest: the compassionate attorneys at Toepfer at Law. Schedule a confidential consultation today.

Imagine that someone started living in your house without your permission and refused to leave, claiming they had the right to stay. This is the nightmare situation that many property owners find themselves in each year, and, unfortunately, removing a squatter can prove much more challenging than you might expect.

Whereas some squatters are complete strangers, others are previous tenants. In these complex cases, a tenant may refuse to leave when their lease has expired. If you’re a professional landlord in this situation, you may not know what to do, or what you legally can do. Just rest assured—you do have legal recourse.

When a tenant continues to occupy your property without your permission, an experienced eviction attorney for landlords may be able to help remove them. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about squatters rights in Minnesota and why hiring a lawyer is often the safest way to move forward.

At Toepfer at Law, we pride ourselves in protecting the hardworking landlords and property owners of Central Minnesota. Whether you need legal advice, representation or help drafting solid legal documents, getting started is as easy as calling (320) 497-4416.

What Is a Squatter? 

Although people often use “squatter” to describe any unwanted person on their property, the term actually refers to a very specific scenario. In Minnesota, a squatter is someone who occupies an abandoned, foreclosed or unoccupied building or area without permission. 

In very rare cases, a squatter may be able to legally remain on the property by claiming adverse possession. Adverse possession, which is sometimes called squatters rights, is the doctrine under which a squatter could acquire a property’s title without buying it. To claim squatters rights in Minnesota, a person must live on the property for at least 15 years and pay property taxes for five.

Squatters vs. Trespassers

A person who does not meet the requirements to claim adverse possession (which vary by state) is not a squatter—they are a trespasser. In some cases, trespassers may present fraudulent deeds or other forged paperwork in an attempt to stay. Whereas squatting is generally considered a civil issue, trespassing is a criminal offense. 

Squatters vs. Holdover Tenants

Holdover tenants, which are sometimes called tenants at sufferance, are tenants who remain on the property after their lease has expired. They are completely different from squatters and cannot claim adverse possession if they’ve been told to leave. Holdover tenants may be considered criminal trespassers in some situations. 

Squatters vs. Long-Term Guests

Unauthorized long-term guests are a problem for almost every landlord at some point. Unlike squatters or trespassers, they have been invited into the space by its current occupant. However, if their presence violates the terms of the occupant’s lease or encroaches on neighboring occupants’ privileges, you may want to file for the current occupant’s eviction.

Do Previous Tenants Have Squatters Rights?

Previous tenants do not have squatters rights if you’ve told them to leave. However, that doesn’t always stop them from staying. In these situations, a tenant may continue to pay rent at the existing rate and terms, and if the landlord accepts it, they may stay as a tenant at will

How to Remove a Tenant Squatter 

When a landlord notifies the holdover tenant to move out, the renter must do so or risk a lawsuit. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll leave right away. Lawsuits and eviction proceedings can be lengthy, and because landlords cannot forcibly remove tenants, they may stay on the property until forced to leave by authorities. 

One of the best ways to remove a tenant squatter quickly is by working with an experienced eviction lawyer for landlords. They can help you notify the tenant at the right time and file all of the necessary paperwork correctly. Although you can file for eviction without a lawyer, it’s generally a good idea to seek legal assistance, especially in the following situations: 

  • This is the first time you’ve evicted someone. 
  • The tenant has hired a lawyer to fight the eviction. 
  • The tenant is filing for bankruptcy. 
  • The tenant is an employee you’re firing. 
  • The property is rent controlled or part of a government housing program. 

If you’re on the fence about hiring an eviction attorney for landlords, remember this: Each month that the squatter tenant remains is a month you lose money. For many property owners, the stakes are just too high to legally represent themselves. 

Minnesota Squatters Rights FAQs

There are a lot of misconceptions about who squatters are and what rights they have, as well as a lot of confusion about how to deal with them. If you have legal questions about tenant squatters, you may want to consider contacting an experienced eviction attorney. In the meantime, check out our FAQ. 

How can I prevent squatters from entering private property? 

In the case of true squatters, not holdover tenants, the best way to prevent unwanted occupancy is to check on the property frequently and maintain proper security measures. It’s also a good idea to make friends with the neighbors and ask them to alert you if they see anyone trespassing. 

How can I prevent holdover tenants? 

It’s impossible to predict when a tenant will abuse the terms of their lease, but it is possible to make sure that your lease agreement is airtight. It’s generally a good idea to work with a lawyer when drafting your lease and other legal documents.

How do I avoid a holdover term? 

If you continue to accept rent from a tenant whose lease has expired, that time is considered a holdover term. Generally, tenants have some legal standing to stay in a residence if they’re paying rent. The best way to avoid this scenario is to refuse to accept money as soon as the lease expires. 

Toepfer at Law: Top Minnesota Eviction Lawyers for Landlords

There’s no getting around the fact that tenant-landlord issues are complex, especially when they involve unwanted occupants. If you’re a property owner, manager or landlord, you may want to consider hiring an experienced eviction lawyer for landlords. By partnering with an expert, you maximize your chances of removing uninvited guests onto your property.
Ready to get started? Contact Toepfer at Law today to schedule a confidential consultation or give us a call at (320) 497-4416.


Meet Tony Toepfer

Attorney Anthony (Tony) Toepfer began his legal career in the area of business and technology law. While successful in that field, he felt there was something missing. He turned down opportunities, because, as he says, “I wanted to see the faces of the people I was helping.” He transitioned into family law practice, and found what he was looking for.

About Tony Toepfer

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