Removing squatters from property

5 Replies

I am looking for some advice on the best way to remove squatters. Is it better to file for eviction or to file for ejectment? Also, will I be able to sue the squatter for the back rent that I could have collected and damage caused to the property and HOA fees for them living there? Thanks in advance for your advice. Also, how much capital is required to formally do an eviction?

@David Gritz

Nice to see you participating in the forums ... and the small step forward of dropping one of your frequent {stuffed} keywords from your post.

The handling of a squatter vs a tenant will undoubtedly differ with jurisdictions, so the ultimate advise is to consult your legal counsel on the matter.

The crucial distinction - at least here - that that a squatter had no legal right to be at the premises and is essentially in trespass / illegal possession of the property.   This {often} means it is easier to {or your sole option is} have them ejected from the property.  Where there is no contract for rent, there is no real chance of a small claims (or a civil suite) awarding you back rent (unless the squatter is really a tenant who is overholding).   Seeking an award of compensation for damages may stand a better chance of success ... collecting, on the other hand, is bound to be the real challenge.

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@Roy N. I already spoke with my attorney. He suggested ejectment would be the correct approach as there is no lease and it is not a holdover tenant. However, I was looking for someone with experience in the matter that could tell me about their story and what they recommend for personal experience. I know if I speak with an attorney they are just going to recommend something that maximizes their fees.

@David Gritz

In Las Vegas, squatters are know issue. Best way is to inform your local police. You should call your local PD and give your name and address of squatters. Be ready to prove ownership with recorded deed. Also, be ready for squatter to give every excuse and even come up with a fake lease. If you have old lease of previous tenant, and dates of move in and move out, would help. 

Meet police at apartment, with proof documents.


@David Gritz I'm not an attorney. But assuming your property is in Philadelphia, and the squatter does not have a lease, then your only option is Ejectment proceedings thru Common Pleas Court. If your squatter was under a lease agreement, you would be able to file eviction proceedings in Landlord Tenant Court (Municipal Court). Unfortunately, ejectment proceedings tend to drag out much longer than L/T cases. Regarding damages, if you were able to get some sort of financial judgement, the chances of collecting on it would be close to zero. Your focus should be getting the squatters out asap at the least possible cost to you. Have you considered cash 4 keys? If not, try that first. If that doesn't work, then hire an experienced L/T attorney to file suit asap. Good luck.

@David Gritz , this question has come up a few times lately here on BP.  I think squatting is being a problem in the City.  Recently (two weeks ago) I discovered a home I was scheduled to close on had a family living in the home.  The bank still owns the property.  They offered the squatter family $1000 in cash.  The family agreed and two days later rescinded and said they were not leaving the house.  The bank has now started ejectment proceedings.  

I have learned a lot since then about the definitions of a squatter, trespasser, and tenant. 

I understand you have spoken with your lawyer and received his advice.  I have added the definitions below for others on the site who may find the information helpful.

Before, you can determine if an eviction or ejectment is the right course of action you must first have define what the person living in your home is.  

A trespasser is a person who is occupying the home temporarily.  They don't have any utilities or mail  in their name.  No furniture moved in.  In this case you would file a police report for the trespassing and start the eviction proceedings.   

A squatter is someone who has established a residence.  They have been in the house a longer period of time, 3 weeks or so.  They have taken steps to make the home theirs. An ejectment is needed in this case.

If the person is a holdover from an expired lease.  Or like some here on BP did, you purchase the property knowing the squatters were there, you have a landlord tenant relationship.  In the case eviction is the way to go.  But you have already stated it is not a holdover tenant.

Both of these are long processes, so don't expect to get your property back for 2-3 months at a minimum.

Lastly, you can sue the squatters.  However, where would you send the court documents?  I don't think they will leave you with a forwarding address.  Assuming this is not a scam and they truly have nowhere to live, they won't have the money to pay you.  While this really sucks, I think this may be the new cost of business in Philadelphia.

Good Luck

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