How to Deal With Squatters in Your Neighborhood

Two Methods:Finding Out About the SituationTaking Action to Deal With Squatters

Squatters are people who move into abandoned, foreclosed, or otherwise unoccupied homes or premises. Generally, under United States law, the owners can have a squatter evicted for violating loitering or trespassing laws, unless the squatters can establish that they have tenants' rights or can gain adverse possession due to the property having been completely abandoned by the owner.[1] Other countries have similar laws, although you should seek specific advice dependent on where you are. If you suspect you have squatters in your neighbourhood contact the police and the home owners, but stay calm and let the authorities deal with the situation.

Method 1
Finding Out About the Situation

  1. Image titled Deal With Squatters in Your Neighborhood Step 3
    Identify the signs of squatting. Try to keep an eye out for signs of squatters moving into an abandoned or empty building in your neighbourhood. There are many possible indications that a building is being squatted. You might notice that doors and windows have been broken to gain access, or that boarded up windows or other entryways have been ripped down.[2]
    • Watch out for small fires burning inside or around the property, as well as candlelight or flashlight movements at nights.
    • Perhaps the "For Sale" sign hasn't been taken down and no moving truck has turned up but people seem to be coming and going regularly.
    • You might notice clothing on the clothes line or shoes at the door. Personal effects might start appearing on the porch or in the yard.
    • You may see tents outside, or graffiti on the walls.[3]
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    Evaluate the situation. It should be relatively straightforward to tell if somebody or a group of people are squatting in a house on your street. It is harder, however, to properly evaluate the situation and understand the actions of the squatters. Try to determine how many people are squatting and get an idea of their intentions. Use your judgement of the situation and consider approaching the squatters and talking to them, but do so in calm way and don’t be accusatory.
    • Squatters are those who “move into” a property and live there. People who enter a property without permission, but do not stay, are generally considered trespassers.[4]
    • It may seem unlikely, but there is a chance that the people who have moved into the house are the lawful owners.
    • If you suspect the squatters of illegal activity, don’t hesitate to report it to the police.
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    Speak to your neighbours. Talk to the people who live on your street and find out if they know anything about the situation. Perhaps they know the home owner, or whether the house has been foreclosed by a bank or mortgage provider. Try to meet up with as many of your neighbours as possible and decide on a plan of action together.
    • Your plan will be dependent on what kind of squatting situation you are experiencing, but showing a united front with your neighbours will help you to have a louder and clearer voice.
    • If you feel threatened by the squatters, it can be reassuring to know that your neighbours are aware of the situation and support you.
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    Learn the laws in your city and state regarding abandoned property. The laws around squatting and property can be complicated, and local residents can have a hard time getting squatters removed in some instances. It’s important to read-up on the laws in your area to inform your next move. If the squatters are involved in criminal activity, you can ask the police to deal with it immediately.
    • If you want to evict the squatters you will need to find and contact the owners of the property to get them to act on the situation.[5]
    • Don’t try to take matters into your own hands in either case. If you do not own the property, you cannot evict the squatters directly.
    • If you do own the property you will still need to issue an eviction notice. If the squatters don’t leave, you will need to secure a court order.[6]

Method 2
Taking Action to Deal With Squatters

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    Contact the police. Call or visit your local police station and explain the situation in your neighbourhood. You should understand that the police may not be able to evict them, but they will be able to give you advice on how to proceed. You can ask the police to visit the squatted house, or make their presence known if you feel threatened by the squatters.
    • Having a patrol car regularly drive past the squatted house might encourage the squatters to move out.
    • Contacting the police at an early stage will also ensure that the issue is on the record. This way you can back up your claim about when the squatters arrived and what they were doing with a police report.
    • Such a record could be useful in any potential legal action.
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    Find the property owner. To have an eviction notice served, you need to find the person or company that owns the house that has been squatted. Talk to your neighbours to see if anybody has any information about the property. If not, you can search city property and tax records for the address.[7]
    • Once you find the owners, get in touch and explain the situation. The owner may have no idea about the squatters and act quickly.
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    Determine grounds for action. If the squatters are causing problems, but the property owner is slow to act or seems disinterested in the issue, it’s important not to try to force out the squatters yourself. Instead, try to determine grounds for action to be taken by others, most particularly the police, but also the utility companies.
    • If the squatters have caused damage to the property, or committed theft or other crimes, you should contact the police and report it.
    • Unauthorised use of utilities such as electricity, gas, and water can also be a criminal offence.
    • Contact the relevant utilities companies to report the squatters.[8]
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    Put pressure on the property owner. If the property is owned by a company or an individual who shows no interest in having the squatters removed, you can think about filing a nuisance claim against the owner.[9] This can be a costly and time consuming process, so be sure that you have made plenty of attempts to get the owner to act before considering this course of action. If you do decide to take this action, you should contact a real estate attorney for advice on how to proceed. [10]
    • A letter from an attorney to a landlord warning him that you and your neighbours are planning to submit a claim can be enough to spur him into action.
    • Try to co-ordinate with you neighbours, and work together to address the issue.
    • If you do have to employ an attorney, working closely with your neighbours will enable you to split the costs.
  5. Image titled Deal With a Noisy Neighbour Step 2
    Foster dialogue not conflict. Dealing with squatters can be a very difficult and unsettling experience, but it’s important that you try to stay calm and don’t escalate the situation. Aim for a clear dialogue with all the parties, but if there is criminality, leave it to the police to handle. It can take time to get squatters removed so be patient and don’t resort to trying to force anybody out yourself.
    • Stick together with your neighbours and support each other.
    • Be sure to keep your house safe by keeping doors and windows locked.


  • If you meet your squatters, speak with them. Sometimes squatters will have a legitimate reason to squat, or won't even be there for long.
  • The laws with respect to squatting vary depending on where you live and which legal regimes apply to you.
  • Get legal advice if you are directly impacted by people squatting on your own property.


  • Realize that people without a home are desperate for somewhere to live and have a little compassion alongside your fear.
  • Never resort to violence or vigilantism.

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