Are Squatters Entitled to Pre-Eviction Notice?

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Are Squatters Entitled to Pre-Eviction Notice?

The short answer is:  Yes.”

A “squatter” is one that settles on property without right, title, legal claim or payment of rent.  Squatting is common throughout the world.  Indeed, author Robert Neuwirth suggested in 2004 that there were one billion squatters globally. He forecasts there will be two billion by 2030 and three billion by 2050.

It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for a Texas landlord or property manager to encounter a squatter in vacant rental property. Unfortunately, law enforcement rarely intervenes when they consider a matter to be “civil” in nature. Accordingly, must squatters must be removed through the forcible entry and detainer laws set-forth in Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code.

Virtually all occupants are entitled to notice to vacate prior to a landlord filing an eviction suit. The type of notice depends on the nature of the occupant’s entry into the property. For example, tenants under a written lease with the property owner are entitled to longer and more formal notice than those who entered the property by some other means.

Squatters, as occupants by forcible entry, are entitled to notice, but only the most relaxed and abbreviated notice.

Section 24.005(d) governs the notice to vacate for occupants who enter a premises by “forcible entry.” This section states:

In all situations in which the entry by the occupant was a forcible entry under Section 24.001, the person entitled to possession must give the occupant oral or written notice to vacate before the landlord files a forcible entry and detainer suit. The notice to vacate under this subsection may be to vacate immediately or by a specified deadline.

Section 24.001 defines “forcible entry” as:

(1) an entry without the consent of the person in actual possession of the property;

(2) an entry without the consent of a tenant at will or by sufferance; or

(3) an entry without the consent of a person who acquired possession by forcible entry.