What Is Squatters Rights in Pa

Title: Understanding Squatters Rights in Pennsylvania: A Comprehensive Guide


Squatters rights, commonly referred to as adverse possession, is a legal concept that allows individuals who possess and use someone else’s property without permission to potentially claim ownership rights over time. While laws regarding squatters rights vary from state to state, this article will focus specifically on Pennsylvania’s regulations and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.

1. What is Squatters Rights in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, squatters rights are governed by a legal principle known as adverse possession. Adverse possession allows an individual to acquire legal ownership of a property if they meet specific criteria, including continuous and exclusive possession, open and notorious use, and uninterrupted use for a statutory period of time.

2. What are the requirements for adverse possession in Pennsylvania?

To claim adverse possession in Pennsylvania, the following requirements must be met:

a) Actual and exclusive possession: The squatter must physically possess the property without sharing it with the original owner or other individuals.

b) Open and notorious use: The possession must be visible and apparent to the owner or public, giving them the opportunity to challenge the squatter’s claim.

c) Continuous possession: The squatter must occupy and use the property continuously for a specified period, which in Pennsylvania is 21 years.

d) Hostile possession: The occupant must possess the property without the owner’s permission or consent.

e) Good faith: The squatter must genuinely believe they have a legal right to the property and not be aware of any title defects.

3. Can a squatter claim ownership of any property in Pennsylvania?

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No, certain properties are exempt from adverse possession claims, such as government-owned land, public parks, and cemeteries. Additionally, properties with registered owners who are minors, individuals with disabilities, or individuals serving in the armed forces may also be exempt.

4. How can property owners protect themselves from adverse possession claims?

Property owners can take several measures to protect their property from adverse possession claims, including:

a) Regularly inspecting and maintaining the property to demonstrate active ownership.

b) Posting “No Trespassing” signs to make it clear that the property is private.

c) Filing a lawsuit against any squatters who occupy the property without permission.

d) Consulting with a real estate attorney to understand and assert their legal rights.

5. Can a squatter be evicted without going through the adverse possession process?

Yes, if a property owner discovers a squatter on their property, they can initiate eviction proceedings. However, if the squatter meets the criteria for adverse possession, they may be able to legally claim ownership rights if the statutory period requirements are met.

6. Can a squatter sell the property they claim adverse possession over?

Once a squatter successfully acquires ownership through adverse possession, they can legally sell the property to a third party, subject to the same laws and regulations as any other property owner.

7. Can adverse possession be used as a defense against a trespassing charge?

Adverse possession cannot be used as a defense against a trespassing charge. A person occupying someone else’s land without permission is still considered a trespasser until the adverse possession requirements are met.


Understanding squatters rights, or adverse possession, in Pennsylvania is crucial for both property owners and individuals who may find themselves in possession of someone else’s property. By being aware of the legal requirements and potential safeguards, property owners can protect their rights and avoid adverse possession claims. However, squatters must remember that adverse possession is a complex legal process that requires meeting strict criteria over an extended period to claim ownership.