The U.S. Squatter Epidemic: Homeowners Helpless Against Unwanted Occupants

Written By BlabberBuzz | Wednesday, 22 March 2023 01:15
Views 8.9K

Homeowners across the United States have been struggling with a growing problem: squatters.

Real estate lawyer Jim Burling, Vice President of litigation for Pacific Legal Foundation, recently warned Fox News Digital that any home left unoccupied for an extended period could be a target. In Chicago, two residents recently found out the hard way when squatters moved into their homes after their elderly family members died. Darthula Young and Karen Polk discovered the squatters in September, yet remain tied up in the court process, a process that can take months and puts the burden of proof on the homeowners.

Burling further explained to Fox News Digital that organized criminal groups often scour title records for properties that are vacant due to foreclosure or death, while the Coronavirus pandemic has added to the problem with eviction moratoriums allowing tenants to legally stay in properties without having to pay rent. "If somebody is living in a home and saying, 'hey, I signed a lease, I'm paying rent, I have a right to be here,' whether or not that’s true the police hear that story then they hear a story of somebody who's not living there and saying 'this is my place these people don't belong here,' the police officer can't make that legal determination.”


This has been the case for Laleh Kashani in Washington state, who has been trying to remove squatters running a stolen-vehicle-trafficking operation on her property since 2020. Only a month ago, a SWAT team was able to take over the house finding drugs and firearms recovered from the squatters.


Burton Banks in Delaware recently learned that his neighbor had been using roughly two-thirds of an acre of his property for twenty years, surpassing the state’s threshold for adverse possession. Banks, who had been paying taxes on the property, was eventually taken to court and lost, costing him the $125,000 parcel of land.

Burling advises that homeowners remain vigilant and keep properties tightly secured to avoid the long and expensive legal battles associated with squatting. Meanwhile, those already dealing with the issue must rely on the court system to determine who is telling the truth and whose paperwork is legitimate. As reported by Fox News Digital, Burling noted that police cannot make that legal determination, stating that “if you have that kind of dispute it has to go to court.”