Squatters’ Rights: What to do When a Squatter has moved into Your Vacant Home


You’ve been away for a few months and now you get to sleep in your own bed. You open the door and guess what? There’s someone in your house. They’re using your bathroom, sitting on your couch and cooking in your kitchen. They’re squatters. Squatters are people who take residence on a vacated property that doesn’t belong to them. It’s not a new craze, It’s as old as homeownership itself. Squatters have taken over single-person homes all the way up to entire neighborhoods.

While squatting isn’t new to America, it has become more common following the 2008 recession, which resulted in more than 5.4 million mortgages becoming delinquent or going into foreclosure. Many families ended up homeless as a direct result. Although the economy has since improved, there are still many reports of squatters. Las Vegas authorities received over 4,000 squatter complaints in 2015, which was more than double the number of reports received in Las Vegas in 2012.

What Not to Do

When you happen upon a squatter on your property, it is important to stick to the right side of the law. Don’t:

  • Attempt to keep the squatter off your property by putting padlocks on the doors.
  • Try to get rid of them by shutting off the utilities. Squatters wouldn’t be living in your house if they weren’t desperate. They will probably look for an alternative way to access these utilities. This may include improvising, which could result in the destruction of your property.
  • Attempt to intimidate them. They may cause you harm in retaliation.

How to Handle Squatters the Right Way

If your home is going to be vacated for a long period at a time, make sure that your property is secure while you’re away. However, if you do find a squatter on your property, here’s what you should do:

  1. Contact the authorities

Your first reaction should be to call the police. Don’t wait. Allowing a squatter to continue living on your property with your knowledge will be interpreted as consent of the living arrangements by the court. It is therefore important to let the police know as soon as possible that there is a trespasser on your property.

The police may not remove the squatter from your house. This is because it is considered a civil matter. However, they will help you begin the process of eviction.

  1. Give a notice of eviction

Give the squatter a notice for eviction. If you’re lucky, the squatter will leave having been served with the notice.

  1. File for an unlawful detainer action

If the eviction notice doesn’t get rid of your squatter, you’ll have to take it a step further and file a lawsuit for unlawful detainer. You may need the assistance of a lawyer to make sure that state law is followed to the letter. This will begin the formal proceedings for an eviction.

  1. Seek law enforcement to evict the squatter

If the squatter continues to persist, you’ll need to seek out local law enforcement to get him off the property. Never engage with the squatter or try to force them off the property yourself. Leave this to the proper authorities.

When you regain your home, invest in measures to keep it secure, this will include updating your homeowners insurance policy to include coverage for a vacated home will protect your home if any damage is done by a squatter.

Protect your house, home and family just by following the above, it’s not too hard.

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