If you own land, you may want to brush up on your legal knowledge in case someone tries to squat on your property. 

We've talked at length over the past two years about the housing problem in Bozeman and whether or not you can legally sleep in your car, should you not be able to afford housing. People are doing their best to get by while trying to live in the Bozeman area, and that may mean turning to alternative housing, and an increase in homelessness. Here's what we found about squatter's rights in Montana. 

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First off, do squatter's rights exist in Montana? Yes, but they're a bit complicated

First, there is a difference between trespassing and squatting. If the land is unoccupied and the owner hasn't expressed that guests are unwelcome, it's not trespassing. It's considered trespassing when someone tries to take residence on private property when the owner has expressed that they don't want them there. 

Photo by Theo Bickel via Unsplash
Photo by Theo Bickel via Unsplash

Seems pretty straight-forward, right? Well, things get a bit more complicated when you take Montana's adverse possession laws into account. These laws allow an individual to legally claim someone else's property. For a squatter to qualify, they will have had to occupy the neglected land for five years or more, pay property taxes on the land, and transparently improve the area. 

Only by doing this can a squatter legally claim the land for himself. How can you protect your property from squatters? 

Photo by Gene Gallin via Unsplash
Photo by Gene Gallin via Unsplash

Visit your property often, pay your property taxes, and post obvious No Trespassing signs around your land. The signs help clarify that it was indeed trespassing, and paying your property taxes helps clear up confusion about who owns the land. 

So, squatting on someone else's land can actually be legal, in some cases. And even crazier, that land can actually become the squatter's property. What do you think about these laws?

If you need more details, check out this information

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