What can you do if you find squatters in your home?

It is a question Channel 6 asked after one woman found a family living in her home.

As we found out, it is a process which favors the rightful owner of a home but what can be done in Texas?

The good news for homeowners who have to go through this in Texas – the process is simple. The bad news is that simple process could take a long time.

Dena Everman sold her home in Georgia and told our sister station 11alive she found a family living in her home after they were scammed.

“I shouldn’t have to expend this energy that I did not give permission to be in my home,” Everman said.

Billy Waddel, a local real esate agent said if there is not steady traffic in those areas, squatters will move in.

“For the homeowner, it’s quite an ordeal,” Waddel said.

Waddel is a real estate agent in Bell County who works for Native Real Estate.

He said this is a problem he’s dealt with in the past as an asset manager with Bank of America, but more recently someone he knows went through the ordeal in the Temple area. Waddel said another realtor old him a story about a squatter in the area.

“They had to go through the $295 filing and wait 2-3 weeks to get the case heard and for the writ of possession to be issued,” Waddel said.

According to Channel 6 Legal Analyst Liz Mitchell, the laws are very strict in this matter but be confusing because Texas has three different time limitations.

“They just have to show, make some effort to get this person off their property within the statute of limitations.”

Three limitations:

The owner has three years to recover their property once someone takes it over without consent.

Five years, but can be complicated by a tenant paying taxes.

Ten years and is limited to 160 acres.

“It’s the trespasser’s job to prove to the judge they should be awarded possession of the land,” Mitchell said.

Things needing to presented for proof include the amount of time they have lived there and whether they are living there openly.

Unfortunately, if they don’t leave, you could call police, but if the squatters know the right things to tell police. If the squatters know the right things to tell police, Mitchell said you may have to file a civil suit.

The process in whole is one Waddel said takes a while.

“it took a couple of months,” he said.

Mitchell said if the process goes to court, the most important thing judges are looking for is an attempt from the rightful property owner to handle the situation without involving law enforcement.

If that fails, a call to the police will serve as proof for the judge.