Vacant rental homes can spell trouble for a property owner. If there is no one in line yet to replace a tenant who has moved out, then those empty rooms will look lovely to trespassers and squatters. By definition, a squatter is a person who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land. In simpler terms for homeowners, a squatter is someone who despite not having permission chooses to stay in your property. Some cases even include a former tenant who refuses to leave even without paying rent after their lease has expired or been terminated.
These unlawful occupants are considered a real threat to your Nashville rental property as it hinders your ability to lease it to new renters. The most effective way to keep your property protected against squatters is to keep your property secure and, if your property is in a different place then have a property management company do the checking for you regularly.
As soon as you discover you have a squatter in your property, it is advised that you immediately alert the police. As soon as you do that and they act on it, then there’s a more significant chance for the squatters to leave without putting up a fight. On the other hand, if you do not report them quickly, then it would be more difficult to evict them because the courts could view your hesitancy to evict as a sign of consent. Another likely scenario that could happen is if the squatter has turned on utilities at that address in their name. Some places view this as valid as it establishes residency, even though the squatter is basically stealing what is rightfully yours. If that happens, then the police will consider the case a civil one and not a criminal matter.
In the off chance that the police can’t help you, your next alternative is to serve the unlawful occupant with an eviction notice. More often than not, just by giving notice will encourage the squatter to leave easily. If they don’t, however, you may need to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit, which will start formal eviction proceedings. The process could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the speed of the court system in your place. As soon as 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.
Once you have successfully evicted your squatters, you will then need to address their personal property. It doesn’t matter if they left freely or were forcibly removed, they may leave their belongings behind. Depending on where the rental home is located, you may be able to throw these items away simply. However, in some places, you may need to place the items 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 dictates.
Dealing with squatters can be a long, laborious process, taking up your valuable time and resources. This is why proactive prevention is the best approach to unlawful occupants. At Real Property Management Investor’s Choice, 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 Nashville property management services, contact us online or call us at 615-810-9578 today.