DEFINITION of 'Squatter'

A person who settles in or occupies property with no legal claim to the property. A squatter is one who resides on a property to which he or she has no title, right or lease. A squatter may gain adverse possession of the property through involuntary transfer. A property owner who does not use or inspect his or her property for a number of years could lose title to another person who makes a claim to the land, takes possession of the land and uses the land.


Different states have varying laws regarding squatter's rights and adverse possession. For example, certain states require continuous possession of seven years to acquire privately owned property in addition to other requirements. Rockefeller Center, for instance, is closed one day each year to make certain that no trespassers or squatters could ever lay claim to the property's title through adverse possession.

  1. Adverse Possession

    A principle of real estate law that allows a person who possesses ...
  2. Title

    The right to the ownership and possession of any item that may ...
  3. Property

    1. Anything over which a person or business has legal title. ...
  4. Land

    Property or real estate, not including buildings or equipment, ...
  5. Deed

    A legal document that grants the bearer a right or privilege, ...
  6. Fair Housing Act

    This law (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) forbids ...
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