If you are a landlord, you probably know it is a headache evicting a problem tenant with a lease, let alone a squatter. A squatter is a person who settles on your vacant rental property without permission. Sometimes, you don't know they are there for days or even weeks.
It can be tricky trying to get rid of squatter because they will claim squatter's rights and may produce authentic-looking documents when confronted by police. Here are some tips on how to evict a squatter from your private rental property.
Determine If They are Squatters or Trespassers
Occupants of your vacant rental property may not be squatters, but trespassers. Trespassers commonly gain entry illegally by breaking doors or windows. They don't stay for a long time.
A squatter will show signs of continued occupancy like clothing, food wrappers, flashlights, firewood, or furniture. Some squatters manage to get utilities in their name. Check with your local utilities to make sure that no one is paying for utilities for the home.
They may have gained entry through former tenants or an insecure residence. When in doubt, inform your local police. They may keep watch or investigate.
If you notice signs of forced entry, that is trespassing. Have them arrested. Change locks and make repairs after they are gone.
Taking eviction into your own hands isn't legal. Squatters may threaten you. Don't turn off any utilities in their name or remove belongings.
OfferThem Move-Out Money
If you have determined they are squatters , try to settle things peacefully by offering move out money. Squatters are often people just down on their luck and don't want any trouble. Though you have lost money from damages, it's a faster and cheaper solution than paying for court proceedings.
File a Forcible Lawful Detainer Suit
After you have tried to peacefully ask them to leave without success, file a forcible lawful detainer suit. A forcible lawful detainer suit works like eviction. You are required to give the squatters five day notice before filing the suit.
Depending on the laws in your state, you may first have to give notice to quit. This gives them a set time to leave. Post the note where it will be noticed or send by certified mail.
If the squatters still don't leave, proceed with filing the detainer suit. A judge will decide the case. The sheriff can force them out if the judge decides they must leave.
Don't let squatters take over your property. Stand up for your rights. In some cases, squatters rights give the occupants ownership after several years so act quickly. Evicting in cold weather can be another issue. Contact a real estate attorney for information on eviction laws in your state. To learn more, contact a professional like Iannello Anderson for information.
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