Squatter’s Rights in San Jose, CA 2024

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In the vibrant heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose property owners face numerous challenges, one of which is dealing with squatters. Squatting, or the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building—usually residential—that the squatter does not own, rent, or otherwise have lawful permission to use, is a significant concern for landlords and property managers. Understanding the nuances of squatter’s rights is crucial in navigating these waters, and taking preventative measures can aid property owners in avoiding such predicaments.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. We are not lawyers, and this information should not be considered as a substitute for professional legal counsel. Always consult with a qualified attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.

What is Squatting?

Squatting is often confused with trespassing, but these are distinctly different under the law. Trespassing is a criminal offense involving entering someone’s property without permission. In contrast, squatting is typically treated as a civil matter that might escalate to criminal trespass if the property owner decides to press charges. This delineation means that when squatters occupy a property, police intervention usually leads to civil court.

Squatter’s Rights And The Law In A Nutshell

In California, the law can sometimes allow a person who does not legally own a property to eventually become its owner. This legal concept is known as “adverse possession.” Adverse possession is based on the idea that if someone uses an empty or neglected property in a certain way for a long enough time, they can claim ownership of it. However, they must meet specific conditions to qualify:

  • Hostile Possession: The person, known as a squatter, does not have permission from the property owner to use the property.
  • Actual Possession: The squatter must live on or use the property openly as if they owned it. This might even include paying the property taxes.
  • Open and Notorious Possession: It must be obvious to anyone, including the owner and neighbors, that the squatter is using the property.
  • Exclusive and Continuous Possession: The squatter must use the property alone (not sharing it with others) for at least five consecutive years.

If a squatter meets all these criteria, they can legally claim ownership of the property without needing the original owner’s agreement. This law aims to encourage the use and upkeep of properties that would otherwise be left empty.

Did you know?

Why Does Adverse Possession Exist? The rationale behind adverse possession is to encourage the productive use of land. Properties better serve economic and community interests when maintained and utilized. Hence, the law rewards those who improve upon neglected parcels of land, contributing to the community or local economy.


How Can Property Owners Protect Themselves? The best way to prevent adverse possession is to actively manage and monitor one’s property. Regular visits can deter squatters and ensure the property remains secure. Here are several tips for property owners:

  • Regular Inspections: Frequent checks can help spot unauthorized occupants early.
  • Security Measures: Installing security systems or gates can secure vacant properties.
  • Legal Knowledge: Understanding local laws on squatter’s rights can prepare property owners for potential issues.

For those unable to visit their properties regularly, hiring a San Jose property management company like A to B Property Management can ensure diligent oversight and regular property checks, reducing the risk of squatting.

What Not to Do

If squatters occupy your property, avoid taking matters into your own hands. Do not cut utilities, threaten, or try to forcibly remove squatters. These actions can lead to legal complications and even criminal charges. The recommended approach is to involve law enforcement to establish a record of the incident and then consult a landlord tenant attorney to address the matter legally.

While squatter’s rights in San Jose can pose a challenge to property owners, staying informed and vigilant can greatly mitigate these risks. Understanding the legal background, combined with proactive property management, can protect property owners from potential legal headaches. Should you face a situation involving squatters, remember to act lawfully and consult with professionals to resolve the matter effectively.

Hire A Property Management Company

Dealing with squatters can be complex and time-consuming. To ensure your property is well-managed and protected, consider partnering with a professional property management company. We work only with licensed and insured professionals, including residential electricians, plumbers, and attorneys, ensuring expert handling of all property-related matters. Our services alleviate the stress of property ownership, allowing you to focus on your investment’s growth. Choose a reliable partner to manage your property efficiently.

For more information or assistance with property management issues, do not hesitate to contact A to B Property Management. We’re here to help ensure your property remains yours and is well-cared for, squatter-free.

Written by

I have been licensed as a real estate agent and loan agent in the State of California since 1985 and started A to B Realty and Property Management on August 1, 1994. We are licensed in California.

We specialize in providing property management services and Real Estate sales for the purchase of residential and commercial properties.

Our most recent success has been working closely with Bank Owned Properties in the management and sale of their assets. We advise on price, condition and needed repairs to ensure maximum return.

After 27 years of experience there is nothing I haven't encountered that I couldn't resolve and you can be sure you will be in good hands!

You can find me on Google+ and facebook or write to me at bob@atobpropertymanagement.com