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Not all squatters are homeless: Common types of unwanted inhabitants and situations of squatting

Squatter stories are popping up across the country, each one unique from the last. There are several different types of instances where squatting can occur. Here are a few.

Simply put, a squatter is a person who occupies a property that they do not own. 

Disputes between squatters and homeowners can be lengthy and expensive ones, depending on the state in which the issue occurs. 

Many states, like Florida, have laws to help remove squatters from homes swiftly, but for the majority of the U.S., these same laws are not in place. 


FLORIDA LANDLORD EVICTED SQUATTERS ONE YEAR AGO, HER STORY HELPED PASS A BILL TO PROTECT HOMEOWNERS 

One of the most common squatter cases that is more widely known is someone who is homeless finding an abandoned or foreclosed property and moving into that home. But this is not the only squatting case that can happen. 

As a homeowner, it’s vital to put measures in place to protect yourself against a squatter situation. Familiarize yourself with different squatter situations that could occur.

Squatters are often thought to be those who are homeless and seeking shelter. 

They could find this shelter in an abandoned home, a foreclosed property or even one in the process of being sold. 

If you are in the process of selling your home, it’s important to keep an eye on it even if you’ve moved out already. 

THESE STATES SHOULD CAUTION ADVERSE POSSESSION, SQUATTERS CAN TAKE OVER IN 10 YEARS WITHOUT A DEED, PAID TAXES 

“For homeowners, I would say my best tip would be if you are going to go ahead and move out of state and your home is going to be sold after you’ve left or if you are a distant relative, and you have a family member’s home that is tied up in probate, have someone keep a regular close watch on the property,” Courtney Hartsfield, a realtor from the Tyler Hughes Realty Group with Horizon Realty based in Madison, Alabama, told Fox News Digital after encountering a squatter in a home she was showing to clients. She highlighted that those types of homes are “easy targets.” 

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Another squatter situation that could arise is a case where a tenant stops paying rent, and then refuses to leave the property. 

One way people do this is through fraud, according to Daniel Phillips, a real estate litigation partner at Belkin, Burden and Goldman law firm, who previously spoke with Fox News Digital. 

He previously shared that a squatter will take on another’s identity in order to fraudulently rent out a space. In many cases, they’ll pay the security deposit and first month’s rent, and then stop paying entirely.

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“It’s a very lengthy process,” Phillips previously told Fox News Digital. “It’s definitely a burden on small landlords who’re trying to collect rent or pay their mortgage, and now you have someone living there that’s not paying you and you have to go through the court process, which is time-consuming, and you have to hire an attorney typically to get the person out.”

In order for landlords to protect themselves against situations such as this, it’s important to do a thorough background check on prospective tenants, according to Phillips, as well as monitoring your property through video, with a property manager or by just having someone checking in from time to time. 

There are even more unique examples homeowners have experienced, such as hiring an individual who takes advantage of them. 

For example, Yudith Matthews and Abram Mendez spoke to “FOX & Friends” in April about how they hired a contractor to complete tile work in their San Antonio home, but claim after they fired him, he refused to leave the property. 

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They explained that he was reportedly still in the house, and they had to go through a big legal battle in an attempt to have him removed. 

FLORIDA AND OTHER STATES THAT HAVE SIGNED BILLS TO PROTECT HOMEOWNERS AGAINST SQUATTERS

“We don’t have any protection. There’s legislators that are out there, such as [Florida] Gov. [Ron] DeSantis, who are making headway, but we need more headway across America to protect us, the homeowners, because there’s very little,” Mendez told Ainsley Earhardt. “It’s really a gimmick, I think, for the municipalities across America to make money.”

According to the couple, the contractor asked if he could stay on the property while he was working on the house. They complied with his request and drew up a contract that the contractor signed. 

After the contractor came up with excuse after excuse for why he couldn’t get the work done, he was fired, but refused to leave. 

Mendez explained that he recorded the individual signing their agreement on his phone, but the squatter later stole his phone and deleted that video evidence. 

In certain cases, someone renting out a property for a shorter term, such as for a vacation, could overstay their visit and become a squatter. 

A case like this happened in Pennsylvania, when landlord Joseph Foresta sued Airbnb in March 2023 after an individual reportedly rented his residence for one night and then took the property over as a squatter. 

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With squatter stories emerging across the nation, the term “professional squatter” has been used to describe an individual who goes from one property to the next, taking advantage of landlords and vacant properties. 

A Chicago woman named Darthula Young previously spoke with Fox News Digital about a professional squatter she encountered. 

In March 2023, Young told Jesse Watters, “He told me he’s a professional squatter, and he knows his rights, and he is not leaving.”

“I would say based on the fact that they were there a year, they didn’t pay rent, the water bill and all of the other damage to the property, they stole the utilities,” she previously told Fox News Digital. “I did file a police report for probably about $25,000 in damages.”

Again, one of the best ways to protect yourself from this is to be diligent. 

“If you’re going to be away from this home, you absolutely need to be monitoring your home, whether it’s security cameras, alarm systems, neighbors, because if people go and move in, and no one says anything, and they can, they’ll fly under the radar, then that’s when problems start,” George Huntoon, a Texas realtor, told Fox News Digital. 

Also, befriend neighbors who can keep an eye on your property when you aren’t around. Not knowing who your neighbors are, a very common circumstance today, is one reason Huntoon highlighted that messy squatter issues occur.

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