The Art of the Professional Squatter......And How to Prevent them from Moving in!

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It's been a few weeks since my last Blog as I have been setting up my new vacation home in Upstate NY and have been working on my other projects so time has not been on my side.  With that said I wanted to touch on the topic of Squatters.      

Webster's Definition:

  • Someone who lives in a building or on land without the permission of the owner.                                                            
  • One that settles on property without right or title or payment of rent.   

I am not sure how it is in other markets around the country but I can tell you in the State of New York it is offensive.  We are so pro-tenant that you can lose your building to these people.  They can move in if your property is vacant or partially vacant, destroy the property and some even try to take over the building by falsifying documents.  They generally target vacant Foreclosures-Short Sales and properties that are under construction.  They will live rent free for months, some even years.  We call them "PROFESSIONAL SQUATTERS" and they do this for a living.  And in NY there is nothing we can do except take them to court in a long drawn out eviction process.  The Police won't do anything nor will the city or state.  It is totally absurd.  I can talk about my experiences with these CATS all day long, but just a couple of examples that stick out that I thought you would enjoy. 

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Example 1:  A partner of mine was finishing up his 2 family rehab in Queens NY and he gets a call from his neighbor asking why his tenants are moving in at 230am.  To his knowledge he has not rented the property out nor was the rehab complete.  He called the cops and he shows up an hour later.  Drapes were installed, locks were changed, crowbar from opening the door on the couch, broken window, TV hung on the wall, beds were set up in the bedrooms, the kitchen was stocked with dishes and food, you get the hint.  My partner says "#$#^$&$*%(*(%%^*$"...Get out of my house.  They said that someone rented it to them and showed some fake lease to the cops.  The cops fully understood that they broke into the house and didn't believe a word these crooks said, but there was nothing they can do and my partner had to bring them to court which took him 2 months to evict.  

Example 2: I evicted a tenant out of one my 2 families that I own upstate.  Eviction took about 2 months.  Not only did it take 2 months they left all their belongings in the house which by law the landlord has to keep for 30 days. Which means to me-1 month more of no rent and have to pay to remove their bed bug infested crap.  Nice-Huh-It gets better.  After the lockout happened the alarm goes off in this unit and guess what.  The tenant we locked out and evicted decided to break in and move back in.  Yup and guess what-Had to go through the eviction process again.....

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       This is the Squatters Rights Symbol

 

This type of garbage happens all over the country in all types of neighborhoods, but generally happens in the distressed areas where there is poverty, projects, and subsidized housing, etc.  We are not afraid of these areas as there is money to be made and we are rejuvenating these blocks one by one and bringing up home values.  With that said we have come up with a very simple fix to prevent these SQUATTERS from moving in.  

Tip of the Year:  We have a few guys that we utilize that move into our rehabs once the walls are up, painted and the property has running water and working mechanicals.  They basically live rent free but always move around to new properties rotating to where they are needed.  Obviously we are always in different stages of each of our properties so on occasion they will need to fill the GAP.  We try and keep them in their specific counties-cities so they are not so far away from their comfort zone.  Some don't drive so they need to be near public transportation, etc, etc.  Their form of payment is generally a brand new rehab to live in each and every week or month and sometimes get a little spending money.  They take care of the property, make sure it stays clean for showings, mow the lawn, bring in the mail, etc.  And at the end of the day with this system we keep the BAD SQUATTERS out and the TEMPORARY good SQUATTERS in!