Are you dealing with squatters trying to take over your vacant property? Squatters are likely to be disgruntled tenants or other individuals who would want to just occupy your rental property or vacant home without paying a dime. As a landlord, you need to act fast before the issue gets out of hand. You will need to liaise with the relevant authorities and serve them with an official eviction notice to legally remove them.
If you are a landlord who is facing squatters problem and you are not sure what to do, am going to share with you the steps to follow to properly evict squatters from your property.
Who Is A Squatter?
A squatter is;
- A person who was your tenant and refuses to pay rent but continues to live in your property
- A sub-letter or roommate who continues to live in a property even after the rental period expires
- A person who believes that they have a right to live in your property and does not have your consent
- Illegally breaks or enters into a vacant property and starts to live there
The moment you realize that you have a squatter in your property, you need to act swiftly because if you ignore, you might end up losing the property to the squatter if they manage to stay there for a longer period of time, uninterrupted.
Other than just occupying your property, squatters are likely to do damage your property since they do not answer to anyone. They can also steal your valuables which are stored in that particular property or even run up the cost of utilities without settling bills, leaving you to carry the burden.
It cannot be emphasized enough, if you want a shorter squatter’s eviction process, it’s advisable to act as quickly as possible to avoid lengthy court processes since squatters also have their rights as well.
How to Evict Squatters from Your Property
The process of evicting squatters vary from state to state or city to city and it’s considered as a civil matter. However, the general process of evicting squatters is as follows;
Start By Calling The Police-
The moment you find a stranger in your property or when your past tenant has refuses to vacate your rental property and doesn’t pay rent either, call the police immediately. The police will handle the matter and assess if the person qualifies to be a trespasser or a squatter. If he is trespassing, that will be a criminal case and police will remove them by force. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a squatter, you will need to refer the matter in a civil court.
Serve Them With An Eviction Notice-
Before you proceed to court, you can try and request the squatter to vacate your property peacefully. To do so, prepare and official eviction notice telling them to vacate your property as soon as possible. If they are good, they will move out without the need of any lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit-
A lawsuit is filed in the event that the squatter becomes stubborn and refuses to move out even after being served with an official eviction notice. If that happens, you can now proceed and file a lawsuit in a civil court and sue the squatter for illegally occupying and using your property.
After filing the lawsuit, you will have to attend the court hearings and present your case and arguments. If the judge rules the case in your favor, you will serve the court eviction orders to the police and they will remove the squatter(s) legally from your property.
Once the squatters have been evicted, you need to go to your property and do damage assessment. You will have to incur costs for any repairs that are needed to restore your dilapidated property back to its original form. Finally, don’t forget to change the locks and install a security system to add another layer of protection.