If there’s one thing that can draw in trouble for property owners, it would be vacant rental homes. As soon as your tenant leaves the premises and no one moves in right away, those void rooms start to look enticing to trespassers and squatters. By definition, a squatter is a person who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land. To put it in simple terms for homeowners, a squatter is someone who is staying in your property but does not have your permission in the first place. Some cases of squatters involve a former tenant who prefers to remain on the property despite not giving any rent after their lease has expired or been terminated.
These unlawful occupants spell losses for you as it hinders your ability to lease your Verona rental property to new renters. The unbeatable way to protect your property against squatters is to keep your property secure and, if you live far from your rental home, have a reliable property management company check on your place consistently.
As soon as you find out you have a squatter, you better act on it fast by alerting the police. If you let the situation linger for a long time, it would be difficult to evict them when you want to. The courts will also interpret your hesitancy to evict as a sign of consent. You wouldn’t want to find out that the squatter has the utilities at that address in their name, because if that happens, then that establishes residency, even though the squatter is stealing your property. In that scenario, the police can’t do anything about it as it then becomes civil and no longer a criminal matter.
If in case the police can’t help you, the next step would be to serve the unlawful occupant with an eviction notice. It rarely happens, but giving notice does work sometimes. And if you are lucky, the squatter will leave without any question. However, if they still refuse to, then you may need to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit, which will trigger formal eviction proceedings. Depending on how fast is the court system in your place, this could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. But once you have a judgment in your favor from the court, you can hire the local sheriff or police officer to remove the squatter for you.
After you have successfully evicted your squatters, you then need to act on the personal property that they left. Whether they go willingly or are compulsorily removed, they may leave their belongings behind. Depending on where the rental home is located, you may be able to throw these items away. Still, in some places, you may need to place the pieces in a storage unit at your expense. If the squatter doesn’t pay the storage fees and claim their property, then you have the right to auction it off or dispose of it as the law in your area states.
Dealing with squatters can be a long, difficult process, taking up your valuable time and resources. This is why proactive prevention is the best approach to unlawful occupants. At Real Property Management Greater Madison Metro, we skillfully manage the move-out process when tenants leave and fill vacancies quickly. After all, an occupied rental house is a profitable, squatter-free rental house. For more information about our Verona property management services, contact us online or call us at 608-310-1290 today.