Home News ‘You can’t stop it!’: Thriving how-to squatter internet forums reveal home takeover secrets

‘You can’t stop it!’: Thriving how-to squatter internet forums reveal home takeover secrets

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‘You can’t stop it!’: Thriving how-to squatter internet forums reveal home takeover secrets

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Thousands of homes across America are being invaded by squatters, who move in and legally live rent-free — and amazingly there’s no easy way for homeowners or the police to evict them.

In Atlanta, the problem is so bad some residents are too afraid to leave for a holiday, for fear of returning to an unwanted visitor or even finding their home converted into an ad hoc strip club.

However, squatting isn’t as simple as turning up to someone’s home and pushing your way in.

This has led to a host of internet forums and dark web pages devoted to the subject offering a fascinating “dummies guide” to getting into someone else’s house and establishing a right to be there.

“I don’t know if you know this, but we have a housing crisis in this country,” a prolific poster told the NY Post anonymously. “And it’s only getting worse. People are going to do what they have to do. You can’t stop it.”

Here are some of the tips sneaky squatters share, for homeowners and vigilant citizens to look out for.

One occupation artist said they place a for sale/rent sign on a property with a phone number attached to a burner mobile phone. If there’s no response, then the home is unmonitored and prime for possession.

Many squatters wade through real estate listing sites to look for homes that have been on the market for extended periods without any activity and then peruse them in person.

One squatter suggested placing an orange cone in the driveway of the home and coming back a week later to see if it’s been moved.

A handful of mansion takeovers — including in Beverly Hills near LeBron James’ home and a $US2 million ($3 million) home in Queens, New York — have dominated the news in recent months, but these are rare due to the scrutiny lush spreads inevitably attract.

While swimming pools and tennis courts have their short-term allure, squatters concede deed holders, police, or media will eventually rap on the door and force a high-profile exit.

One recent case splashed across television news in New York began when Adele Andaloro, whose parents lived in their $US1 million ($1.5 million) Queens house until they died, was arrested on camera as she tried to change the locks on the squatters who had moved in.

Police briefly evacuated the home on Friday while investigating an unspecified, emailed threat at the residence, according to a source. It’s unclear how long the accused squatters were out of the house.

One experienced squatter set a value limit of $US500,000 ($770,000) for viable targets.

Homes far removed from prying neighbours are the squatting gold standard, but delicate interactions with locals are often unavoidable.

Some preach a hermit-like existence to conceal one’s presence, while others advise acting like you own the place and engaging normally — just like you have a rental agreement.

The legal term for squatting is “adverse possession,” and rules allowing it are established in all 50 states. The exact rules differ from state to state, but in many, a squatter can make an ownership claim on a property if they’ve lived there openly for a certain period and satisfy other requirements.

If neighbour engagement is necessary, many squatters endorse a charm offensive and property maintenance to minimise friction.

When a blighted home shows signs of improvement, some residents hoping for improved local property values might turn a blind eye even if they suspect something untoward.

Utilities — or lack thereof — are another squatting flashpoint. Some occupiers manage to get their lights and gas activated with fake leases, while others prefer to remain in the literal shadows without the benefit of electricity.

One poster wrote that he dealt with a lack of plumbing in a long-term squat by repurposing a bathroom as a “compost toilet” that breaks down waste biologically, usually with sawdust or peat moss in a makeshift commode.

Other threads debate the ethics of gratis living, with some asserting that corporate-owned investment properties that sit vacant for years are fair game and don’t present a moral dilemma.

Some squatters rail against those who infiltrate properties owned by more vulnerable groups, including seniors and other working-class types who’ve managed to secure rental homes to supplement their income.

“The number of people in this country who are facing homelessness is going in one direction,” a Reddit poster said, noting that the recent migrant influx will only fuel the trend.

“You think squatting is an issue right now? Just wait.”

This article originally appeared on NY Post and was reproduced with permission

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