Squatters Rights in Maine

Harbor, Maine aerial view

Understanding Squatters Rights in Maine

Squatters rights, often referred to as adverse possession, have been a subject of interest and debate for property owners and legal professionals alike. This concept revolves around the idea that someone who occupies another person’s property without permission might eventually gain legal rights to that property. In the state of Maine, understanding squatters rights is crucial for property owners and those interested in real estate. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive explanation of squatters rights in Maine, shedding light on the legal aspects and considerations.

Squatters rights, also known as adverse possession, are legal principles that allow a person to gain ownership of someone else’s property if they have continuously occupied and used the property for a certain period of time, typically without the owner’s permission. This concept is based on the idea that abandoned or neglected properties should not lie dormant while others could make better use of them. However, there are specific conditions that need to be met for adverse possession to be claimed.

Key Conditions for Adverse Possession in Maine

In Maine, as in many other states, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled for squatters rights to be claimed:

  1. Open and Notorious Possession: The possession of the property must be open and easily noticeable. The occupant cannot hide their presence from the true owner.
  2. Exclusive Possession: The possession must be exclusive, meaning the squatter is the sole occupant and not sharing the property with others.
  3. Continuous Possession: The possession must be continuous without any significant gaps in occupancy.
  4. Hostile Possession: The occupation must be without the owner’s permission, which is often referred to as a “hostile” claim.
  5. Statutory Period: In Maine, the statutory period for adverse possession is typically 20 years. This means that the squatter must maintain possession of the property openly, exclusively, and continuously for at least 20 years.

Understanding Maine’s Property Laws

Maine’s property laws play a critical role in determining the outcome of squatters rights cases. The state follows the common law principles of adverse possession but has its own statutes that outline the specific requirements and conditions for claiming ownership through adverse possession.

Legal Considerations

It’s important to note that adverse possession cases can be complex and contentious. Property owners who believe someone may be attempting to claim their property through adverse possession should take prompt legal action to protect their rights. Likewise, those who wish to claim ownership through adverse possession must ensure they meet all the necessary conditions under Maine law.

Disclaimer: the information provided here is a general overview and should not be considered legal advice. Laws and regulations can change, so it’s always best to consult with legal professionals for accurate and up-to-date guidance.


Q1: What are squatters rights?
A1: Squatters rights, also known as adverse possession, refer to the legal principle where a person can gain ownership of a property if they openly and continuously occupy it without the owner’s permission for a specific period of time.

Q2: How long do you have to squat on a property in Maine to claim squatters rights?
A2: In Maine, the required duration of continuous occupation to claim squatters rights is 20 years. The occupant must also meet other legal criteria, such as using the property openly and making improvements.

Q3: What are the essential conditions for claiming adverse possession in Maine?
A3: To claim adverse possession in Maine, the following conditions must generally be met:

  • Continuous occupation of the property for at least 20 years.
  • Open and notorious use of the property.
  • Possession must be hostile or adverse to the actual owner’s interests.
  • Payment of property taxes during the occupancy period.
  • No permission from the owner for the occupation.

Q4: Can adverse possession apply to all types of properties in Maine?
A4: Adverse possession laws in Maine apply to both residential and commercial properties, as well as vacant land. However, certain public properties, government lands, and properties owned by minors might have different rules.

Q5: Can adverse possession be prevented by the property owner in Maine?
A5: Property owners in Maine can take measures to prevent adverse possession by:

  • Regularly inspecting and monitoring their property.
  • Sending written notices to anyone occupying the property without permission.
  • Taking legal action against trespassers or unauthorized occupants promptly.

Q6: Can adverse possession lead to the transfer of property ownership in Maine?
A6: Yes, if the person claiming adverse possession meets all legal requirements, including the 20-year occupation period, they can potentially gain ownership of the property without compensation to the original owner.

Q7: Are there any exceptions to the 20-year rule for adverse possession in Maine?
A7: In some cases, the 20-year period might be shortened if the occupant has acquired the property through a deed or a will. Consulting with a legal expert is advisable to understand specific exceptions and circumstances.

Q8: Is it advisable to rely on adverse possession to acquire property in Maine?
A8: Relying on adverse possession is a complex legal process with specific requirements. It’s recommended to seek legal counsel before attempting to claim ownership through adverse possession, as laws can be intricate and subject to change.

Q9: Can adverse possession cases be challenged in Maine?
A9: Yes, property owners can challenge adverse possession claims by asserting their legal rights and providing evidence that the conditions for adverse possession haven’t been met. Legal proceedings may be necessary to settle such disputes.

Q10: Is adverse possession the same as squatters rights in Maine?
A10: Yes, adverse possession is often colloquially referred to as squatters rights. However, it’s important to understand that the legal terminology and requirements may differ slightly.

Squatters rights is a legal concept that has significant implications for property owners and occupants in Maine. Understanding the conditions and requirements for claiming ownership through adverse possession is crucial for both parties involved. If you find yourself in a situation related to squatters rights, seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney with expertise in Maine’s property laws is strongly recommended.

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