If you are a property owner or property manager, you will experience times that the property you own or manage will be vacant. The incidence of squatters taking over vacant properties has increased so it has become necessary to practice vacant property protection. LandLordStation.com offers landlord information regarding how to prevent squatters, vacant property tips and more.
There is a difference between squatters and trespassers. Trespassers will break out windows or doors to gain entry. They do not have the utilities turned on, or move furniture in. Squatters will sometimes gain access by using a realtors’ lockbox or even have a locksmith change the locks on the property. Squatters will have the utilities turned on and move in just as if they have a legal right to do so. Also, squatters usually require the owner or landlord to file an eviction action in order to remove them from the premises.
There are some actions that you can take for vacant property protection. One of the best actions to take is to get to know the neighbors on each side of the property, as well as the ones across the street. Introduce yourself and tell them that you manage the property. Let them know that it is going to be, or is, vacant. Give them your name and telephone number and ask them to contact you if it looks like someone might be moving into the property. Advise the neighbors that you will tell them when the property is rented, and let them know when the new tenants are scheduled to take possession. Tell them that you would appreciate it if they informed you of anything suspicious. Neighbors don’t want squatters in their neighborhood.
Another trick for how to prevent squatters is to install a monitored security system. Have windows and doors wired into the system. Do not give the alarm code to any realtor and do not use a real estate lock box. Squatters have been known to purchase keys, or alarm codes, from unscrupulous individuals when a real estate lock box is used. However, taking this route will make it necessary for you to go to the property each time it is shown. This might be one of the most expensive and time-consuming ways to secure the property, but it is one of the most effective.
Also, you can go to the utility companies that service the property. Take a letter stating that you are the owner, or manager, of the property and that you require notice prior to switching the utilities to another name. In addition, you can require that the utility company get your approval in writing before putting the utilities in a tenant’s name. During cold weather, you might have to leave the heat on at the property to prevent pipes from freezing. The bills should always come to your own address. Most utilities will accommodate this request.
Some of the tricks that deter squatters from occupying a vacant property include removing appliances and toilet tanks. Be sure to maintain the lawn and outdoor area. Install blinds and keep them closed so that no-one can see that the property is vacant. Of course, check on the property regularly.
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