Navigating Difficult Home Sales

How To Deal With Squatters In Your Property

Squatters, or individuals unlawfully occupying a property, can significantly challenge homeowners.

Written by: Carolina Consuegra
Posted: 05/23/2023

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Squatters, or individuals unlawfully occupying a property, can significantly challenge homeowners.

Read more: How To Deal With Squatters In Your Property

It can be daunting, particularly if you’re already dealing with other landlord-related issues, such as bad tenants. If you are in such a situation, here are some practical steps to effectively deal with squatters on your property.

Understanding Squatter’s Rights

Before taking action, it’s vital to understand squatter’s rights, also known as “adverse possession.” These rights vary from one jurisdiction to another. Generally, squatters can gain legal ownership of a property if they live there for a certain period and meet certain conditions.

1. Prevention is Better than a Cure

Firstly, preventing squatters from occupying your property is much easier than trying to remove them once they’re established.

Regular inspections, robust security measures, and prompt responses to vacancies can all help keep squatters at bay. The costs of selling a house can increase dramatically if squatters are present, so preventative measures are a sound investment.

If squatters have already moved in, it’s essential to get legal advice immediately. Engaging with squatters without legal advice can inadvertently grant them more rights or result in allegations of harassment or illegal eviction.

To lawfully remove squatters, you must follow the legal eviction process in your area. This typically involves serving notices, going to court, and potentially arranging for law enforcement to remove the squatters.

The eviction process is far from easy. If you want to learn more, check out our post what to do when a tenant trashes your house.

4. Document Everything

Keeping a record of all interactions, damage, and costs can be beneficial if you need to go to court or claim insurance.

It’s also a good idea to get a home appraisal before and after the squatters are removed to document any damage or depreciation in the property’s value.

5. Consider Selling

You might consider selling your property if dealing with squatters becomes too much.

You could sell your property with tenants, but you should consult a legal advisor before taking this approach.

Sometimes, homeowners might decide that the best option is to sell the property “as is.” In our article on how to sell your house “as is,” we offer insights into navigating this process.

Dealing with squatters can be stressful and time-consuming, especially for property owners who don’t have experience dealing with these matters. The process generally involves identifying the squatter, serving them with a notice to vacate, and possibly taking the issue to court.

Proving ownership of a property can be challenging. Furthermore, it can be costly to hire an attorney to represent you in court. And then you need to wait for the court’s ruling, which can take months to be finalized.

Additionally, squatters may cause damage to the property or engage in criminal activities while on the premises. Leading to further complications for the property owner.

However, you can find the most effective solution by understanding your rights and responsibilities and considering all your options.

Remember always to treat all parties involved with respect and fairness.

Your primary goal should be to resolve the issue with as little conflict and cost as possible. After all, maintaining a peaceful environment is crucial.

6. Reinforce Security Measures

Once you’ve regained control of your property, taking measures to prevent future squatting is important.

Enhance security by installing robust locks, security cameras, and alarm systems. Regular inspections can also help detect early signs of illegal entry.

7. Keep The Property Occupied

A vacant property can be an invitation to squatters.

Try to keep your property occupied. If you’re not living in the property, consider hiring a property manager or renting it out. Our guide to selling or renting your house might provide valuable insights.

8. Insure Your Property

Comprehensive insurance coverage can provide a financial safety net should you encounter squatters.

Insurance can cover potential damages and sometimes even legal fees associated with eviction processes. Remember, squatters can cause considerable damage, some of which we’ve covered in our post on the scariest tenant damage we’ve seen.

9. Communicate With Neighbors

A strong local community can act as an extra layer of security. Neighbors can be the first to notice any suspicious activity and alert you or the police if they see unauthorized people on your property.

10. Consider Cash Sale Options

Sometimes, the best way to handle squatters is to sell the property to a cash buyer.

Companies that buy homes for cash can quickly take the property off your hands and handle the eviction process. Find out more about these companies in our article on how companies that buy homes for cash work.

Dealing with squatters can be complicated, but with these tips, you should be better equipped to handle the situation. Prevention is key, and taking proactive steps to secure your property can save you significant time and money.

Regardless of whether you’re dealing with squatters or simply seeking advice, we at Meridian Trust have resources to guide you through.

Whether you’re contemplating the pros and cons of selling your property by owner or figuring out when to sell your rental or investment property, we’re here to help you make informed decisions.

11. Maintain Property Appearance

Ensuring that your property is well-maintained and looks lived in can act as a deterrent to squatters.

Overgrown lawns, broken windows, and piled-up mail are signs of vacancy that might attract unwelcome visitors.

Check out our best landscaping ideas to improve curb appeal for tips on keeping your property inviting and occupied.

12. Remove Belongings After Eviction

After a successful eviction, removing any remnants or belongings left behind by the squatters is crucial. This way, you deter them from returning and reasserting their occupancy.

Be sure to follow local laws when disposing of these items. Our post on what to do when a tenant trashes your house might provide some useful guidance if you’re uncertain.

Conclusion

Squatters can cause considerable inconvenience, stress, and financial strain for property owners. Understanding your rights and following the proper legal channels to evict squatters from your property is essential.

Prevention, however, remains the best solution. Regular property maintenance and a strong neighborhood watch can go a long way in keeping your property secure.

If you’re overwhelmed by the situation, remember you have options. For instance, selling your property to a cash buyer can free you from the hassle and potential costs associated with squatters.

To learn more about this option, check out our post on top reasons to sell your home for cash.

At Meridian Trust, we’re committed to helping property owners navigate the complexities of real estate ownership. From dealing with challenging tenants or squatters to making informed decisions about selling, we have the resources to assist you.

For more guidance, visit our blog or contact our team.

Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not make any guarantees about the sufficiency of the content in or linked to from this blog post or that it is compliant with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.

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