Can You Turn Off Utilities On A Squatter?

Picture this. You need to get rid of a house fast but squatters moved in. They moved in and they love it! WHY? Because you left the utilities on. The squatter has free access to hot and cold water. Light and heat. Heck, you may even be giving them free WIFI! 

So can you just turn off utilities on a squatter? 

Can I turn the squatter’s utilities off?

To sell a house with squatters, you need to get the squatters out. This has a simple solution. Why not just turn off the utilities, right?

This is why.  Legally, you can’t just shut off the power or any utilities if a squatter is living in your house. 

Squatters have rights. Squatters’ rights include utilities. Keep reading for what you should do in this situation. 

You cannot turn off utilities on a squatter. It may seem ridiculous, it may seem unfair, and quite frankly I wouldn’t disagree. Why should a squatter be allowed to live for free in your house? Why can’t you just shut the utilities off? 

You cant turn them off because squatters do have rights. We’ll get into the weeds of this in a sec. But first:

If you are in this situation I am sincerely sorry. The whole thing is kind of B.S. really.  But it is what it is so let’s tell you what you can do. 

Today we will cover:

  1. Can I turn off utilities on a squatter?
  2. Why can’t I turn off utilities on a squatter?
  3. How to turn off utilities on a squatter legally.
  4. Can I turn off utilities on a trespasser?
  5. When does a trespasser become a squatter?


So let’s go through the steps to get the squatter out so you can get the house SOLD with no closing costs!


Table of Contents

Can I Turn Off Utilities on a Squatter?

can I turn utilities off utilities on squatters

Can you turn off utilities on a squatter?

No. You can’t turn off utilities on a squatter. I’m not saying it’s fair. But the fact of the matter is you’re not allowed to turn the power and water off. 


Squatters have rights. In-fact, squatters rights are basically the same as the rights of a tenant. Seriously, they are!


Imagine you’re a landlord selling a vacant rental. Or maybe you’re selling an inherited house from out of state. Either way, think about the shock when you get a call saying someone is squatting. 

What do you do? It should be as simple as turning of the utilities and forcing them to leave. But it’s not. We know that now

What is the next step?

You can’t turn off utilities on a squatter immediately to force them out. But you can get them out. It’s imperative you abide by all of the local, state and federal laws. It would be prudent to read this comprehensive guide on squatters rights and how to proceed – reading it could save you ending up on the wrong side of the law yourself!


Why Can't I Turn Off Utilities On a Squatter?


The reason you can’t turn off utilities on a squatter or squatters living in your home is the result of past events. Things happened, people got hurt, and laws were written to stop them from happening again. 

Squatters were given rights to prevent people from taken “the law” into their own hands. For example: An overly aggressive landlord deciding to use vigilante justice. Maybe they decided to form a posse, and get violent. No-one wants that. So the law got involved. 

The law decided that squatters should have the same rights as a legally contracted tenant. Because of this if a squatter is an a houses you need to sell for any reason, you have to remove them following the same rules as evicting a tenant. 

IN SUMMARY: Squatters were given the same rights as tenants because in the past people did bad stuff to them. That’s why you can’t just turn of utilities on a squatter. 

Does that mean squatting in my house I'm selling is legal?

Definitely not. Squatting in a house, whether its, vacant, being sold, or has utilities on or off is illegal. It may seem odd that squatters rights are protected but squatting is illegal. 

That’s the way it is. 

How to Turn Off Utilities On A Squatter Legally


Nearly every state forbids property owners from turning off utilities on a person living in their home. This is true for renters, tenants and  squatters. This means you can’t call the utility company and tell them to shut it down.


If you get behind on the bills the electric company will eventually turn off the power. Same too for the water. But this may not be in the best interest of the property. 

For example: In Denver, CO it gets very cold in the winter. Pipes can freeze! If the power and gas is off during a cold snap the pipes may freeze, burst, and cause another entirely different issue!!!


I advise you keep the utilities on and you have to evict the squatter

To get the squatter out, you are going to have to evict them. This may not be the answer you are looking for. The eviction process for a squatter takes time and costs money. Once again, I am not saying this is fair, but this is the legal way to move forward. 

PLUS in the name of protecting the property you need to sell from further damage, it is the best path forward. 

Can I Turn Off Utilities On a Trespasser?

You can turn off utilities on trespassers. Trespassers do not have the same legal rights as squatters. Here is the basic difference between a trespasser and a squatter:

  1. A squatter claims to have a right to live in your inherited house, or vacant property that you must sell.
  2. A trespasser is a person or people who go into a house but do not claim the right to live their. Maybe they are just hanging out drinking, smoking or trashing the place. 

Before you turn off the utilities on trespasser I recommend you do this first. 


If someone is in the house you are selling without your permission call the police. If the police determine the “intruder” is trespassing they can immediately remove them. Then your problem is solved…


Now you have to take these steps to prevent squatters or trespassers from getting into your house again. 

When does a trespasser become a squatter?

Some real estate experts will tell you it is a time based factor. Others might tell you something else. From what I have learnt through my extensive research is that there is not one set of rules. They vary from city to city and state to state. 


If a person enters your property, illegally, and then claims to be a squatter then you must treat them as a squatter. 

!!! As a property owner who has had the call someone is trespassing or squatting this is what you ALWAYS MUST DO first !!!

Regardless of what you think be sure to call the police as soon as you find out someone is illegally in your house. If the police choose to remove them that is great. If they call you back and say you have squatters then you have to evict them.

If a person has entered your house and is claiming squatter rights, you cannot turn off the utilities. You cannot turn off the utilities hoping they will move out because squatters have rights. Squatters’ rights are very similar to the rights of a tenant.

Squatters having the same rights as a tenant may not seem fair, but that is the law. Check out this in-depth guide on squatters’ rights.

Squatters’ rights in Colorado are almost the same as that of a legal tenant. Because of this, you can’t simply turn off utilities in the hope they move out. Nor can you forcibly remove them. If you have a squatter living in your house you have to evict them. The eviction process is exactly the same as if you were evicting a tenant. 

If you think you have a squatter living in your house, you must contact the police. Contact the police and tell them someone has illegally entered your house. Ask the police to investigate.

Usually, when someone breaks into your house, the police will remove them, especially if this has just happened. This ends any chance of this person becoming a squatter. 

Because of this, if you think you have a squatter living in your house, you must call the police. Let the police be your legal guide for the first step. 

If the police show up and the trespasser claims to have squatters’ rights, the police may not be able to remove the trespasser. If this happens, you will have to evict the squatter. 

It used to be that evicting a squatter in Colorado could take months. This is because the squatters had the same rights as a tenant. Therefore you had to file an eviction to get the squatter out. The eviction process was precisely the same as evicting a bad tenant, which can be seen here. 

New Law Streamlines Removing Squatter Passes 2018.

On June 6th, 2018, Colorado Senate Bill 18-015 was signed. The bill’s short title is: “Protecting Homeowners and Deployed Military Personnel Act.”

This act allows an owner to file a complaint with the county court. The complaint should include the following:

  1. A request to hold a hearing within one court day.
  2. The court orders the person/persons occupying the premise to be removed.


Of course, you must give the squatter/intruder written notice. You must “serve” the intruder/squatter at least 24 hours before the time to appear in court. 

When the documents are filed correctly and if the courts rule in your favor, you can request the sheriff to remove the squatter. From start to finish, this process can take as little as 48 hours.

You must check out this expert explanation for the easiest (and quickest way) to remove squatters in Colorado. 


PRO TIP: Ask, don’t demand, the sheriff’s help.

have you ever heard the saying you get more bees with honey?

The sheriff will do this as quickly as possible. Remember, though, your squatter isn’t the only crime the sheriff is dealing with. Because of this fact, be respectful when asking for the sheriff’s help.  


Demand for Compliance Versus Notice to Quit. 

I prefer to deliver a notice to quit than a demand for compliance. I like a notice to quit regardless if I am dealing with squatters or bad tenants. 

My residential leases allow me to give the notice to quit in certain circumstances. No matter how you deal with your squatter, make sure it is per the law.


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