Squatters Rights in Kentucky [2023] – The Ultimate Guide

This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.  If you’re looking for legal guidance to understand squatter’s rights in Kentucky we recommend speaking with a real estate attorney specializing in Kentucky evictions.

What are Squatter’s Rights in Kentucky?

Squatters Rights in Kentucky House with Squatters Inside Rental Property

Squatter’s rights, also known as adverse possession, allow an individual to gain ownership of a property by occupying it for a certain period of time without the permission of the property owner. This can happen when a property is vacant and unclaimed for an extended period of time. However, squatting on properties that are currently in use or inhabited by the rightful owner is not allowed.

If you’re tired of dealing with bad tenants and considering selling a rental property complete the form below. Or, keep reading to learn more about squatter’s rights in Kentucky.

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Understanding Adverse Possession in Kentucky

Adverse possession laws vary by state, but typically, a squatter must occupy the property continuously and openly, and must also pay taxes on the property and make improvements to it. In some states, the squatter must also have the intent to claim ownership of the property, and must have held the property openly and without permission for a certain number of years, typically between 5 and 30. In order for a squatter to make an adverse possession claim on a property, they must also have “color of title.”

What is Color of Title?

Color of Title means that the squatter must have a document, such as a deed, that appears to give them a legitimate claim to the property, even though it is not actually valid. This can happen if the squatter was given a fraudulent deed or if the original owner did not have the right to sell the property. To make an adverse possession claim, the squatter must meet certain requirements, including occupying the property continuously and openly, paying taxes on the property, making improvements to the property, and having the intent to claim ownership of the property through an adverse possession claim.

Trespassing vs Squatting?

Trespassing and squatting are both related to the unauthorized use of property, but they are distinct legal concepts.

Trespassing refers to the unauthorized entry onto someone else’s property. This can include entering private land, buildings, or vehicles without permission, or remaining on the property after being asked to leave. Trespassing is generally considered a criminal offense, and the property owner can take legal action to remove the trespasser and may seek for damages or compensation.

Squatting, on the other hand, refers to the unauthorized use of a property by someone who is not the rightful owner. Squatters are individuals or groups who occupy empty or abandoned buildings or land without permission from the property owner. Squatting is usually considered a civil offense, meaning the property owner must take legal action in civil court to remove the squatter and may seek compensation.

In some cases, a person may be both a trespasser and a squatter. For example, if a person enters an abandoned building without permission and then starts to live there, they would be both trespassing and squatting.

It is important to note that squatting does not include someone who enters a property with permission of the owner but stays on the property after permission has been withdrawn or expired. In the US, some states have laws that allow property owners to take steps to prevent squatting on their property, such as posting “no trespassing” signs or installing locks.

Can Police Move Squatters?

The police can remove squatters from a property, but the process for doing so depends on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the situation. In general, the police will not remove squatters unless there is a court order for eviction.

If a landlord or property owner has obtained a court order for eviction, the police can assist with the eviction process by escorting the squatters off the property and ensuring that the eviction is carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner. However, the police do not have the authority to evict squatters without a court order.

In some cases, if a squatter is breaking the law, such as by breaking and entering, vandalism, or committing other criminal activities, the police may take action to remove the squatter and make an arrest. However, this is not the same as eviction, which is a civil matter.

It’s also important to note that squatters may have certain rights and protections under the law. The police must follow proper procedures and protocols when removing them from the property to avoid any potential legal issues. Therefore, it is advisable for the property owner or landlord to consult with an attorney before calling the police to move squatters.

Can a Tenant Claim Squatters Rights?

A holdover tenant is a tenant who remains in a rental property after the lease or rental agreement has expired. In other words, a tenant who has overstayed their welcome. The tenant continues to occupy the property and pay rent, but they do not have a legal right to be there. The landlord may choose to accept the rent and continue the tenancy or, in most cases, terminate the tenancy by serving a notice to vacate or by filing an eviction lawsuit.

Holdover tenants are different from squatter tenants, which are individuals who occupy a property without the permission of the owner or legal tenant. Squatters are not paying rent and don’t have any legal agreement with the property owner.

It’s important to note that the laws and regulations regarding holdover tenants vary by state, so it’s best for landlords to consult with a lawyer to understand their rights and responsibilities and to determine the best course of action for dealing with a holdover tenant.

What Not to Do When Evicting Squatters

  1. Not following the proper legal process: Landlords must follow the proper legal process for evicting squatters, which includes serving a notice to vacate and obtaining a court order for eviction. Failure to follow the proper process can lead to delays in removing the squatters and can also result in legal penalties for the landlord.
  2. Using self-help methods: Landlords cannot use self-help methods, such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities, to remove squatters. This can lead to legal repercussions for the landlord and can also make it more difficult to remove the squatters.
  3. Not providing proper notice: Landlords must provide squatters with a proper notice to vacate, which must include the date by which the squatters must leave the property and the consequences if they do not vacate. Failure to provide proper notice can lead to delays in the eviction process and can also result in the landlord being held liable for damages.
  4. Not consulting with a lawyer: Evicting squatters can be a complex legal process, so it’s important for landlords to consult with a lawyer to ensure that they are following the proper legal procedures and to avoid any potential legal complications.

How to Get Rid of Squatters in Kentucky?

If you have squatters on your property, there are several steps you can take to remove them:

  1. Serve the squatters with a notice to vacate: In Kentucky you’re required to give the squatters a notice to vacate the property before taking legal action. This notice should state the date by which the squatters must leave the property and inform them of the consequences if they do not vacate.
  2. File an eviction lawsuit: If the squatters do not leave the property after receiving the notice to vacate, you can file an eviction lawsuit in civil court. This will require the squatters to appear in court and present their case. If the court rules in your favor, the squatters will be ordered to vacate the property.
  3. Call the police: If the squatters refuse to leave the property after being served with a notice to vacate and losing an eviction lawsuit, you can contact the police for assistance in removing them from the property.
  4. Cash for keys: Quite simply, offering the squatter a financial incentive to vacate the property can be effective. While it may seem strange to pay someone to leave the time and expense it takes someone to evict someone may be higher than what it costs to motivate someone to move under their own free will.

It is important to note that the process of evicting squatters can be time-consuming and costly. It’s best to consult with a lawyer and follow the laws and regulations of your state, in order to ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to remove the squatters from your property.

What are the Kentucky Eviction Laws

In Kentucky, evictions are governed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 383. According to Kentucky law, a landlord must provide a tenant with a notice to vacate before filing an eviction lawsuit. The length of notice required depends on the reason for the eviction:

  • For nonpayment of rent, the landlord must provide a 3-day notice to vacate.
  • For lease violations, the landlord must provide a 7-day notice to vacate.
  • For the end of a lease term, the landlord must provide a 30-day notice to vacate.

If the tenant does not vacate the property within the specified time frame, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit in district court. The court will then set a date for a hearing, at which the landlord and tenant can present their cases. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be ordered to vacate the property.

It’s important to note that a landlord cannot evict a tenant without following the proper legal process. This includes serving the tenant with a proper notice to vacate and obtaining a court order for eviction. Additionally, the landlord cannot use self-help methods to evict a tenant, such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities.

In Kentucky, the eviction process can be time-consuming and costly, so it’s best for landlords to consult with a lawyer to ensure that they are following the proper legal procedures and to avoid any potential legal complications.

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As experienced real estate investors, we understand the challenges that come with owning rental properties. Whether it’s dealing with difficult tenants or unexpected repairs being a landlord can be stressful.

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So if you’re a fellow real estate investor looking to sell your property, I invite you to reach out to me. Let’s discuss your specific situation and see how I can help you achieve your goals.

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