Question from Squatter, What are the laws regarding squatting in a vacant building in Virginia?
Answer from AI:
In Virginia, squatting is generally considered illegal. Squatting refers to the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building without the permission of the owner. However, under certain circumstances, a squatter can gain legal ownership of a property through a process known as adverse possession.
What is Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to claim a property right in land owned by someone else if they have inhabited the land for a certain period of time. In Virginia, the requirements for adverse possession are quite strict. According to Virginia Code § 8.01-236, a squatter must occupy the property openly, continuously, and hostilely for a period of 15 years to claim adverse possession.
What are the laws against squatting?
Squatting can be considered a criminal or civil offense in Virginia. If the property owner wants to remove the squatter, they can file a lawsuit for eviction. If the squatter refuses to leave after receiving an eviction notice, they can be charged with trespassing under Virginia Code § 18.2-119.
What are the steps to deal with squatters?
If you are a property owner dealing with squatters, you might consider the following steps:
- Call the police: If you discover a squatter, your first step should be to call the police. However, the police may consider it a civil matter and not intervene.
- Give a notice of eviction: If the police do not remove the squatter, you can give them a written notice of eviction. If they do not leave, you can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit.
- Go to court: If the squatter does not leave after receiving an eviction notice, you can go to court. If the court rules in your favor, the squatter will be ordered to leave.
When should you seek legal advice?
If you are dealing with a squatter, it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and guide you through the eviction process. They can also help you understand the complex laws surrounding adverse possession and how they apply to your situation.
Remember, this information is a general guide and not a substitute for legal advice. Always consult with a legal professional for personalized advice.