Squatters are people who have moved into abandoned, foreclosed or unoccupied homes. If there is an active owner and the property hasn’t been completely abandoned, most of the time, under U.S. law, owners can have a squatter kicked out for violating loitering or trespassing laws. There are those loopholes though in which squatters can establish that they have tenants rights. They can even gain adverse possession due to the fact that a property has been completely abandoned by the owner. If you have squatters or suspect there may be some in your neighborhood, read below to see what you can do to regarding this matter.
One of the first things you can do is to try and notice if any places in your neighborhood have become vacant. Make sure to ask questions. At least one of your neighbors has to have some sort of information on what’s going on with a recently vacant property.
Make sure you know your neighborhood well. Get to know most of your neighbors or at least their faces and frequent visitors. This way, you can spot any unfamiliar faces and be able to investigate if there is any squatting going on.
Keep an eye out for signs. If there is a vacant property, there are signs to look out for that can tell you whether or not there might be squatters in it. Look out for forced signs of entry such as broken windows or torn down boarded up windows. Also look out for small fires being set at night to keep inhabitants warm. If there is a “For Sale” sign in the front yard and there has been no moving of furniture or a moving truck hasn’t been seen, but there has been lots of movement of people, that could be a true indicator. An easier sign to look out for to see is if any personal items start appearing on the front porch/lawn like shoes for example and perhaps clothes being hung on a clothesline. These can all be clear signs of squatters.
Make sure to learn the laws and regulations regarding abandoned properties and squatters in your area. There are many laws and loopholes when it comes to squatters. In most cases, squatters will be considered to be trespassing (as mentioned before), but if a property has been abandoned there are squatters rights, which if the owner has abandoned a property, it allows squatters to stay in a property after a certain period of time.
The only people are that are allowed to call the police on squatters and get them immediately kicked out are the owners of the property. The only thing you can do as a neighbor is report a squatter and this can at least make the police keep watch of the property. Even though it may feel like only filing a report does nothing, its good to have an official report filed, incase anything happens in the future.
If you notice that squatters might actually be using utilities in the vacant property and they are obviously not paying for them, make sure to call utility companies to notify them. Sometimes owners neglect to turn off their utilities and may be acquiring a bill that’s not theirs. Also turning off the utilities might run squatters off.
If you notice that squatters may be causing damage to the property, you can notify the bank and/or whoever is in charge of the property. Bank officers can hire a locksmith to install and change locks on the property and then if they were to re-enter the property, squatters can be charged with a breaking and entering offense.
Once you’ve done the all the things we’ve mentioned its best to just let the policy handle it. There is only so much you can do. Most of all make sure to protect yourself and your family. If you don’t already have one, set up alarm system and take any safety precautions you may be able to. Keep in mind, not all squatters are criminals, some may just be people that are going through a rough time, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Hope this helps when dealing with squatters in your neighborhood and what to do.