With increasing financial problems and property owners going into foreclosure, the rate of squatters is also increasing. There are different types of squatting such as activists for a political movement. But the most popular form of squatting is when a person or persons inhabits a property not in their legal possession.
With the rates of foreclosures over the last few years, vacant homes leave a perfect place for squatters to reside. They can be strangers just entering the home and taking over or even the former owner of the property who may have lost the home. They live rent free nor would they pay property taxes. They are essentially thieves who can take advantage of laws such adverse possession, where a squatter remains in the vacant property long enough to obtain legal rights to the title of the property. These laws vary state by state via their statute of limitation for eviction actions.
If a squatter is not the former owner, many times they can be evicted easily through legal processes such as by the mortgage company. However, if the squatter is someone who is foreclosed upon, the process is a little more difficult to evict such persons using loitering and trespassing laws but the result is often the same.
States, such as Michigan, are trying to change the way squatters are dealt with. While Michigan is proposing laws that would rid squatters quickly and more efficiently while toughing the penalties, it will not affect those who merely having trouble paying their bills and fixing their mortgages.
So why should squatters concern people? Not only are they occupying land they don’t own and haven’t worked to obtain the rights of the home, they can often times bring criminal activity such as drugs and robberies. It hurts mortgage companies and lenders by losing the property to squatters and not being compensated. It also can bring communities a blight condition, damaging growth and prosperity of areas already trying to recover from our recent economic damages.
A published article by ABC13 out of Houston, Texas told the story a woman who was having financial trouble and the mortgage company paid her $2,000 to relocate and they would take possession of the home. However, she was alarmed when the mortgage company was calling her stating the squatter had leased for her to occupy the home. The squatter had changed the locks and told the former owner she’d have to evict her. The mortgage company had taken legal action to remove the squatter.