Definition - What does Homestead Act mean?
The Homestead Act is a property rights act that was enacted in 1862. It allowed people to acquire plots of land (up to 160 acres) and claim it as their own with a few conditions. One such condition requires the person to live on the land for a period of five years prior to claiming ownership. Additionally, they were required to add to or improve the property in some way. This included farming the land. A nominal fee was also paid before the full ownership status rights were granted. The Homestead Act is still in effect and has been cited in various property rights cases across the United States.
Justipedia explains Homestead Act
The Homestead Act can be used during cases where squatter's rights are claimed. For example, if a person moves into an abandoned home but improves and maintains the home and its property, the person would have the right to file a claim for ownership status of the property after a certain amount of time. The amount of time varies by jurisdiction. They could claim their right to do so under the Homestead Act.