Trespassing vs. Squatter. First Scary Encounter.

25 Replies

So long story short. Managing an Airbnb and go to the basement of my multifamily to wash some towels. saw like 30 alcohol cans, pills, powerball tickets everywhere and one of my tenants mattresses on the ground.

I grab a sledgehammer and start screaming blood and gore. Homeless guy comes out behind a stack of bed frames.

I gave him one of my airbnb bed sets and told him to leave, saying that if it were another situation he could of been shot and killed cause you don't just pop out in a dark small basement at 10pm.

Anyways...I don't know how he got in, but I was lucky he wasn't an aggresive drunkard (at the moment) or worse...carrying weapons. So for future reference, whats the difference between a squatter and a trespasser and what consequences can they face. the basement is definitely NOT considered a living environment. its just for storage and laundry.

Could someone go in there and say "Im squatting and I have rights" or can I physically remove them

If it's another homeless dude and actually completely intoxicated and runs at me belligerently, do I have a good enough reason to retaliate?

Hi @David Zheng ,

I think you handled it well. As far as the overall question I think it may change on jurisdiction. As far as physically removing I would leave that to the authorities unless I (or my tenant) was in immediate danger. You may have to press charges to the fullest extent if it becomes an issue (The trespassing, drugs, intoxication, exposing ones self, breaking and entering, assault etc)

Good Luck!

Hell yeah, whoop that ***.  What would you do if some drunkard homeless guy was hiding behind your dryer at your personal residence?  Knuckle sandwich or 00, that's what.  It's a homeless guy, who's going to believe him if he says someone beat him up for living in their basement without permission?  Who would care?

Get a CHL, shoot every weekend and always carry.  

Not sure about Missouri, but I believe in most states, that would be considered burglary, or at the very least "breaking and entering".  I would have pulled a gun on the guy and called the police....but that's me.

I think you handled the situation well.  I had an instance where I came home one day and caught a guy pulling a lawnmower out of a shed.  He was backing out, I said "what are you doing".  He said, "the man told me to get this for him".  I said "what man?".  He dropped everything, jumped the fence, and took off running.

Glad to hear there was no damage.  Check the windows and doors.

We had a live in the "storage locker space of 3rd floor" guy that when he heard someone coming would go up to the flat roof thru the roof access in the locker space,, some other tenants from across the pool were calling office wondering why someone was up there.. any way..

This is what happens when controlled entry doors are blocked open or pennies stuck in the locks.. anyone and everyone has access..

You did good job getting him out and we did the same,, besides adding locks to roof hatches and putting notices out about making sure entry doors are controlled and stranger alerts.. 

Originally posted by @Justin Fox :

...It's a homeless guy, who's going to believe him if he says someone beat him up for living in their basement without permission?  Who would care?...  

So much for loving they neighbor, huh...  Homeless people are still people. 

...how about next time, after you've ensured your safety, take them to a shelter or offer some assistance. Anyone can pull a gun and threaten someone. It takes guts and heart to help those that can't help you.

@Jay J.   The type of encounter that @David Zheng had wasn't average,, and this could have been a much worse situation for him. 

I don't think his reaction was wrong or how he handled the situation.. I would have run and called the cops. 

Let the cops take the intruder to the gray bar shelter.. if they are trespassing and find a social worker from county to take over.. YOU just don't know who people are.. 

There is safer ways to contribute to your community for street people.. but you do it your way and best of luck if your comfortable with that. 

@Deanna McCormick is spot on.  Have your cleaning service double check on their way out whether the locks are jammed, a window left ajar, etc. because it sounds like your area is susceptible to vagrants.  They can also burn your place down; happens all the time.  Also, do you know if he was in there while you had renters checked in?  Imagine the liability there!  I also carry concealed because you never know.  In that situation, it could have gone very wrong, very quickly.  The bleeding hearts here sound very pious, but it's your life.  If you get a gun just be sure you get the proper training, preferably a concealed carry license.  I think you handled the situation well though.  

Originally posted by @Deanna McCormick :

@Jay J.   The type of encounter that @David Zheng had wasn't average,, and this could have been a much worse situation for him.. 

Deanna, you're right. I re-read the original post and I have to commend David for taking the actions he did. I mean, he said he gave him a bed set and told him to leave. 

..and yes, it could have turned out much worse.

Interesting 'thought experiment'..  say David was armed and shot (and killed) the man.

Who would actually do that? I mean, who trust their local cops enough to put themselves int that situation..   Maybe if your state has really pro-gun / anit-sqatter laws, but damn, I wouldn't risk that over some dude in my rental..  

That kind of stuff weighs heavy on the mind..  even if your in the 'right'..

@Jay J  I would agree that shooting someone is the last thing I would want to do, and it sounds like this guy didn't overtly threaten David, fortunately. However, if in that situation the guy attacked me I would shoot. This would undoubtedly lead to a lot of legal difficulties, but that's better than possibly being killed. 

@Jay J. what if the guy shot David?  Then where would your compassionate sensibilities lie?  Still with the perp because he's homeless?  Just because we carry licensed does not mean we're itching to shoot someone!  We just want to make it back home to our families at the end of each day.  It may be a stereotype, but the homeless are often mentally handicapped, and some are battle-scarred veterans, well-versed in the use of their own weapons.  Should David sacrifice his safety because of some misplaced do-gooder sympathy and worry about hurting the homeless guy's feelings?  That guy was an unknown quantity in a place he definitely should not have been and David's reaction was well-placed.  Jay, go to your local range and learn a little about guns and what it takes to get a license to carry.  WE are the good guys here, law-abiding and looking to preserve life, not take it.  

@Jay J. thanks for your service.  I'm former Navy myself (8 years) and saw too many friends lose their lives needlessly.  That guy potentially put David's life in harm's way, so my sentiments go out to him.  As far as your "thought experiment" goes, you didn't really give enough detail about the situation to determine if David would've been in the right or not.  State laws are crucial, yes, but also important is the law of self-preservation.  Again, we don't get a carry license just so we can run around shooting people.  I apologize for being long-winded on this but our 2nd amendment rights are crucial to our freedom, for which both of us were willing to put our lives on the line.  I feel that it is THE biggest thing keeping our over-bearing government in-check.  Thanks for listening and here's wishing everyone a healthy Memorial Day, especially you veterans. I thank God for you, for my family and for a free country where I can enjoy both. 

Originally posted by :

.. but our 2nd amendment rights are crucial to our freedom..  I feel that it is THE biggest thing keeping our over-bearing government in-check. . 

Oh please... The best thing for this country is for people to be educated, not armed.

..but anyway. Enjoy the day !!

Originally posted by @Jay J. :

Interesting 'thought experiment'..  say David was armed and shot (and killed) the man.

Who would actually do that? I mean, who trust their local cops enough to put themselves int that situation..   Maybe if your state has really pro-gun / anit-sqatter laws, but damn, I wouldn't risk that over some dude in my rental..  

That kind of stuff weighs heavy on the mind..  even if your in the 'right'..

 Agree with your thoughts...and yeah, shooting someone is the worst option.  However, if you have a stranger in your house and you have no idea what that stranger is capable of, I want the advantage.  I stated I would have pulled a gun, then called the cops.  I stick by that.  If I pull a gun and violence is directed toward me, I can take action.  If I pull a gun and call the cops and nothing happens, he's arrested and charged with burglary (probably plea-bargained down to trespassing) and I'm good to go from both a protection and legal perspective.  David mentioned pills...you don't know what else the guy could have been on.

For what it's worth, whenever I drive on Interstate 70, I get pulled over because I have Colorado plates.  Those green Colorado plates = "possible marijuana smuggling" to any cop outside of Colorado.  I routinely get pulled over.  I can count on it at least once every trip.  The last time was last November on the way home from doing business in Indiana.  I got pulled over just west of Ferguson on I-70.  Officer insisted I was following 1 second behind the car in front of me and there is a 2 second legal requirement.  I apologized, provided my license, my CCW permit, told him I had two loaded handguns in the truck, and offered him the keys to search the vehicle.  He told me my window was out of track on the rear passenger side of the truck (the dog lunged at him when he approached).  I went to check it out, looked back, and he was gone.

Being assertive is OK.  Too aggressive can get you in trouble.  The best thing you got going for you in any situation is the gray matter between your two ears.

I agree with those who replied safety first then compassion.  You don't want to be overly compassionate in this type of situation because you could encourage the man to return.  You probably don't want him to think he's found a softy who will make his problems your problems.  I would have handled the situation in a similar way.  After reading this conversation, I hope I would call the police.  What a frightening and stressful situation!  I'm sorry that you had to have your night start on this note!

Originally posted by @Jay J. :
Originally posted by :

.. but our 2nd amendment rights are crucial to our freedom..  I feel that it is THE biggest thing keeping our over-bearing government in-check. . 

Oh please... The best thing for this country is for people to be educated, not armed.

..but anyway. Enjoy the day !!

 Ouch. I guess he didn't vote for Trump.

Originally posted by @David Zheng :

So long story short. Managing an Airbnb and go to the basement of my multifamily to wash some towels. saw like 30 alcohol cans, pills, powerball tickets everywhere and one of my tenants mattresses on the ground.

I grab a sledgehammer and start screaming blood and gore. Homeless guy comes out behind a stack of bed frames.

I gave him one of my airbnb bed sets and told him to leave, saying that if it were another situation he could of been shot and killed cause you don't just pop out in a dark small basement at 10pm.

Anyways...I don't know how he got in, but I was lucky he wasn't an aggresive drunkard (at the moment) or worse...carrying weapons. So for future reference, whats the difference between a squatter and a trespasser and what consequences can they face. the basement is definitely NOT considered a living environment. its just for storage and laundry.

Could someone go in there and say "Im squatting and I have rights" or can I physically remove them

If it's another homeless dude and actually completely intoxicated and runs at me belligerently, do I have a good enough reason to retaliate?

 Some interesting facts. If the person has slept over night in your place. You are at risk if you call the police. I have run into this unusual situation. The police are given rules that as long as a person has slept overnight, they may be some sort of tenancy rights. The police then protects the rights of this human being, preserving their rights in front of an eviction judge. The police have rules that they cannot determine tenancy and a judge must do this. This may be hard to understand but it seems to be a law problem. Now if this person breaks into the property but has not slept overnight, they are a subject to breaking and entering, a crime. In this situation where the person has slept over night, attempt to offer them money to leave and maybe a hotel room for a night. Once they are out and down the street, you are fine. It is far simpler than calling the police and being faced with an eviction procedure. 

@Justin Fox "Who would care he's just a homeless guy"? Wow did I really just see someone post that?

You ever think how bad off the guy must be to actually be sleeping on a dirt floor in a basement of a house? Not saying it's ok but really? Kick his *** because no one will believe him or even care. WOW