Squatter’s Rights in San Diego & How to Evict
Are you dealing with squatters in San Diego, California? For landlords and rental property owners that are in this situation, we understand. Understanding squatter’s rights in San Diego is one thing. Determining the best strategy to evict them is another.
Many landlords that are stuck in a bad situation like this often ask us how to evict squatters in California. Unfortunately, there are multiple layers you must work through to determine what you can legally do within San Diego County as a property owner dealing with unpaying occupants.
Here is a comprehensive guide on squatter’s rights in San Diego and how to evict them as a landlord.
Who is Considered a Squatter in San Diego?
A squatter is someone that is occupying a residence – typically a residential house – that is currently vacant. This commonly happens to landlords in San Diego who own a vacant property (empty for several months) or have an empty property under construction.
Squatters inhabit these residences without lawful permission. This means they do not legally rent or own the property while occupying the unit. By California Law (and US Law), it is not considered trespassing. Trespassing is when someone else currently lives in a property and someone breaks in with the intention of living there, or when a person walks onto private land.
Holdover Tenants (At-Will)
Holdover tenants, also known as at-will tenants, are tenants who continue to live in a property after the end of their lease. If holdover tenants and the landlord agree to this, and the tenants continue to pay the rent and other agreed-upon household expenses, this is perfectly legal. This is the ideal situation if both parties want it.
However, they are considered a San Diego squatter if they continue to live in the property after their lease and stop paying rent. You, as a landlord, should provide them with a Notice to Quit (aka notice to move out). This notice should have a certain amount of days that you want them to leave the property by if they do not comply with the issue at hand (i.e. they start paying rent).
What are Squatter’s Rights in San Diego, California?
As a landlord, it’s vital that you stay informed about the squatter’s rights in San Diego, California. There are ways that a squatter can leverage and work the system to their advantage. If that happens, you may have trouble getting rid of them.
For landlords who let their rental properties get too far gone, squatters in San Diego can even take over the rights to a property. Don’t let that happen to you and your rentals. Stay informed of the law and seek help from a real estate professional when you need to evict a squatter or prevent a tenant from becoming a squatter.
What is Adverse Possession in California?
Believe it or not, squatters in California can claim rights to a property through what’s called adverse possession. This means that squatters in CA must maintain 5 years of continuous use (or maintenance) of a property to make this claim. If claimed successfully, a California squatter can actually gain ownership of your house.
The five legal requirements needed for a squatter to claim adverse possession include:
- Open and notorious – A California squatter must not hide the fact that they are occupying and living in a place. If they try to hide it, their claim will not be valid.
- Exclusive possession – The squatter must occupy and maintain the property entirely by themselves with no one else.
- Actual – The squatter must exercise full control of the real property.
- Hostile claim – The squatter must know that that they are squatting and do it in good faith.
- Continuous use – A CA squatter must continuously occupy the property for at least 5 years. They must also pay property taxes during this time.
How to Evict Squatters in San Diego
Trying to evict squatters in San Diego is no easy task. It will push you to your limits as a landlord and likely give you a sour taste in your mouth about owning real estate. HGTV (the popular real estate TV show) doesn’t tell us how tough owning rental properties and dealing with squatters can be.
Fortunately, California is a state that favors landlords and gives you multiple options on what to do when encountering this situation. If you’re wondering how to evict a squatter in San Diego, these tips should help provide you with some direction.
1. Pay the Squatter
As slimy as this can feel, paying the squatter money to vacate the property is the quickest and simplest way to get rid of a squatter in San Diego. If you have a previous relationship with the squatter, you can leverage that and hopefully get them to agree to a certain amount of money. By paying them, you can get rid of your squatter and bring things back to normal.
Start off by knocking on the door to have a conversation with them – as long as you feel safe doing so. If you feel comfortable and safe approaching them, have a conversation prepared and the amount of money you plan to pay them. Chat with them and set an agreed-upon date for them to leave by. If they do, you can give them the cash once they are out. What happens when you run out of money yourself? If you don’t have enough money, you can find Cash-paying daily careers in San Diego. From there, change the locks and secure your property.
2. Offer to Rent
If you think the squatter could be a worthy tenant and will treat your place (and you) right, consider renting to them. Once you establish the ground rules of your property, draw up a lease and begin renting to the squatter.
Of course, this is risky if the person squatting doesn’t seem credible. So it’s important to trust your gut on this one or seek advice from a real estate professional. If your property manager or realtor in San Diego is helping you with your property, see what potential ideas they have in terms of renting out your house.
3. Evict the Squatter
To start with attempting to evict a squatter in San Diego, you must begin by serving them a notice. Your options, depending on the situation, include the following:
- Nonpayment of rent – Prove the squatter is not paying rent and provide them with a 3-day notice to pay
- No lease or end of lease – If the tenancy is less than 1 year, you can serve a 30-day notice to quit. If the tenancy is a year (or longer), you can serve a 60-day notice to quit.
- Illegal activity – For proven illegal activity taking place on the property, you can serve a 3-day notice to quit.
If the San Diego squatter doesn’t leave the property after the set notice period served, your next step in evicting them is to file an unlawful detainer with the court. You’ll need to work with the County of San Diego Court to evict a squatter in SD that’s occupying your property.
From here, if there is still no response after serving them the unlawful detainer, you can regain the property (possession of it) and can remove the squatter. If they do respond to the unlawful detainer, a court hearing within 20 days will be scheduled for you and them to attend.
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How to Prevent Squatters in San Diego
Preventing squatters in San Diego from entering your home is possible with enough preparation and tact. For starters, determine how long your property will be vacant. Once you know that time period, that will help you decipher how intensely to secure your property.
As the saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry” when working to prevent squatters in San Diego from entering your home. The more you secure your property, the less likely squatters are to break in.
You can secure your home by adding an alarm system. This will dissuade people from breaking in. If they try to break in, the alarm will ideally scare them away. Additionally, you should replace the locks to make sure you (and only you) are the only one with a key to get in.
Lastly, make sure all windows and doors are locked and sturdy. Many homes in Southern California have weak back doors and windows. These are prime spots that people can use to break into your property. Prevent squatters in San Diego by battening down the hatches of your home and by keeping it secure.
Summary: How to Sell a House With Squatters in San Diego
Any landlord should be up to date on squatter’s rights in San Diego. It’s important that you are aware of them and know how to navigate the system. For your own protection (and your property’s), review the real estate laws regarding tenants, landlords, and squatters in California.
Dealing with a squatter is a massive headache. It can take months to remedy the situation and cost you thousands of dollars in lost rent and legal expenses. If you have wondered, “How can I sell my house with squatters in San Diego?”, our team is here to help. Brotherly Love Real Estate buys houses in San Diego CA as-is. This means we will purchase your home with a squatter inside.
Our team removes the headache from the situation. Selling your property with squatters in San Diego is possible when working with us. We are used to dealing with squatters and bad tenants. Our company has evicted squatters many times. Sadly, it’s all part of the gig as professional home buyers.
If you want to sell your house with squatters in San Diego, contact our team today to receive a cash offer.