Squatters Rights in Maryland

By Darci Pauser ; Updated June 05, 2017
Deed to a House

In the state of Maryland, squatters do not have many rights regarding continuing occupancy if the landowner ("deed-holder") objects. Maryland considers the deed-holder to be the rightful controller of the property and all squatters to be trespassers, whether or not the deed-holder is engaging in active use of the property. Improper eviction, however, may provide the squatter with grounds to sue for damages and squatting over a period of 20 years with no attempt at concealment may grant the squatter legal rights to ownership of the property.

Wrongful Detainer

A property owner in Maryland may file what is termed a civil suit of wrongful detainer against any squatter on his property. Wrongful detainer refers to an illegal detaining or use of another's property. A judge will determine whether or not the squatter wrongfully detained the property. If the judge rules in the plaintiff's favor, the defendant has 10 days to execute a right of appeal.

Improper Eviction

A property owner is required to follow strict legal proceedings to evict a squatter. If wrongful detainer is granted to the property owner in a court of law, a sheriff must arrive on the property with a warrant. A squatter has the right to remain on the property until presented with this warrant. If the property owner attempts to evict the squatter on his own, the squatter may sue for damages. If the squatter was a subtenant of a prior tenant, this may increase his rights and require a formal eviction.

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession describes a possession, or occupancy, of real estate that is counter, or adverse, to the deed-holding owner. According to Maryland law (Courts Article ยง5-103), a squatter may remain in possession after 20 years of occupancy if the deed-holder has not objected. A squatter, however, may not attempt to hide his occupancy. The occupancy must be open and easily known to outsiders.

About the Author

Darci Pauser began writing in 2001. Her work has been featured in publications such as the "UC Berkeley Undergraduate Journal," Indybay and the West Texas Weekly. Pauser holds a certificate in sustainable agriculture from California's Green String Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.