Safeguard Your Site Against Squatters by ProQuest


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									November 2009                         TAX CREDIT HOUSING                          MANAGEMENT INSIDER                                                 7


safeguard Your site Against squatters
Squatting may be making a come-                     take immediate Action to                             ment would then have the author-
back in the United States. In the                   Remove illegal Occupants                             ity to enforce it.
1970s, it became a widespread                       What should you do if you find
problem in cities after the hous-                   signs that someone is illegally                          PrACTICAL PoInTer: If, upon
ing market collapsed. Nearly 40                     occupying a vacant unit? The                             entering a vacant unit, you find
years later, high unemployment,                     first step should be to contact the                      signs that someone may be squat-
                                                                                                             ting there, change the locks imme-
rising evictions, and homeless-                     police immediately to have him                           diately and secure the premises. If
ness along with the surge of vacant                 removed. However, if squatters                           the squatter returns and finds the
housing may be contributing to its                  have been occupying the unit for a                       unit locked and security reinforced,
resurrection.                                       while and have created the appear-                       he will probably move on.
                                                    ance of a tenancy, such as having
    The recession has supplied the
                                                    furniture in the unit or receiving
ingredients for a squatting boom,
                                                    mail or bills at the address, the sit-               Prevention is the Preferred
says Eduardo Peñalver, a profes-
                                                    uation may get a little more com-                    Method
sor at Cornell Law School and co-
                                                    plicated. If it looks as if they’re                  For most site owners, court should
author of Property Outlaws: How
                                                    living in the unit, the police will                  be a last resort, says Weisbroth.
Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters
                                                    probably be reluctant to act, and                    “It’s much better to protect the
Improve the Law of Ownership. He
                                                    the burden shifts to the owner to                    property in the first place.”
writes: “As rising unemployment
                                                    prove that it is a trespass violation.
pushes more people out of their                                                                              One way to deter potential
houses and apartments, growing                          It then becomes a civil mat-                     squatters is to make vacant units
numbers of Americans…have little                    ter, and the owner can begin an                      look occupied with blinds or cur-
choice but to break the law. And so                 action for ejectment to remove                       tains, and having lights on timers.
some of them are turning to a strat-                them, Weisbroth says. “The action
                                                                                                             Vacant units should be secure-
egy that has cropped up repeatedly                  for ejectment is more appropri-
                                                                                                         ly locked at all times, and site
in American history—squa
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