Dealing with Squatters

While the term “squatter” may make you think of crumbling buildings and homelessness, it can be a very real problem for well-kept and well-managed communities. Since dealing with squatters can be difficult, knowing the telltale signs and how to properly handle the situation is key. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate these tricky waters:

  1. Communicate with residents/owners. By maintaining clear lines of communication with members of your community, you can establish which units are owner occupied, leased, and if someone is relocating. Having a general idea of who should be around is helpful in identifying those who don’t belong and may be squatters.
  1. Track titleholders. Knowing who owns what (i.e. the bank or individuals) in your community gives the HOA a pretty good idea if a home should be occupied or not. In most cases, the owner won’t be aware of the squatters and by keeping an eye out, you’re not only doing the HOA a service, you’re helping owners out as well.
  1. Look for easy targets. Since squatters look for homes that are obviously unoccupied, you should too. Looking for homes that have newspapers/mail piling up and look generally neglected will help you identify targets before squatters do.
  1. Know the limits of the HOA’s authority. Even if you know someone is squatting, the HOA most likely doesn’t have any rights to evict. Since eviction isn’t always an option, you’ll first want to determine if the person(s) is a true squatter or someone who doesn’t have a proper lease on file. If it’s the latter, work with them/the homeowner to obtain and finalize all necessary paperwork. If it’s a true squatter, don’t take things into your own hands. All you can and should do is advise the owner of the situation in writing and notify the police. You never know what you’ll find on the other side of the door, and it isn’t worth risking the safety of anyone on your board.

While there isn’t a lot an HOA can do about squatters, having an HOA community management company, like Spectrum, who will help you work with law enforcement, titleholders, and the judicial system can help prevent squatters from plaguing your community in the long run. If you’re not happy with or your community doesn’t already have a property management company, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love the opportunity to work with you and help your community with any issue, including squatters!




  1. Daniel Willis August 27, 2016 at 2:28 am - Reply

    My name is Daniel Willis I recently applied for the position of community manager with spectrum, but am doing so coming from the field of social work and feel I am expertly qualified to add some insight into this post regarding “squatters” as i have spent every day caring for and providing case management for the homeless population in the nations largest homeless shelter.
    Firstly I would like to put out a few truths that i think we can all agree on.
    1. Said “Squatter” is not “squatting” due to everything going well for the individual. This should be kept in mind by anybody coming into contact with the individual, do so with some caution, as you do not know what a person in a desperate situation is likely to do.
    2. Being in a bad situation where you are reduced to finding the comfort in an unoccupied shelter does not necessarily make you a bad or dangerous person. You may find that the easiest way to get the person to move on is by using compassion and treating the individual with common courtesy and respect and not just as a problem.
    3.Lastly there are individuals who are trained, paid, have the experience and resources to be much more capable of diffusing the situation to the satisfaction of all parties, than local law enforcement. These people are social workers and if you were to place a call for assistance to the local Health and Human Services or call 211 (if your in Texas) they would be able to put you in contact with just such an individual who will be able to come out and offer options to your Squatter that should help move them along permanently with out all of the messy court involvement.

    I don’t want to sound to much like an advocate for the poor and down trodden as I ultimately respect the rights of the home owners, and the safety of the community members, but confronting a person who is already in a dire situation and not providing him an exit is a recipe to make matters worse, potentially causing costly repairs and time consuming eviction processes that could be avoided.
    thank you and have good days
    Daniel Willis

    • Cameron Lange December 8, 2016 at 9:44 am - Reply

      HI Daniel

      Thank you for your perspective. It is important to balance property rights with the humane treatment of all people.

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