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IPFS News Link • Housing

Squatting is a widespread problem that's flooding American neighborhoods with heightened...

•, Cassie B.

Squatters are increasingly taking over homes across the nation in a trend that is bringing crime to previously safe neighborhoods and leaving homeowners frustrated and broke.

Many squatters are turning to online listings to find vacant properties they can capitalize on, and they are getting away with it as countless states have laws in place that make it nearly impossible for owners to get rid of squatters once they have taken over a vacant home. As a result, many end up being able to live rent-free in some of the country's nicest homes for several months or even years.

The trend is being facilitated by modern technology, with squatters browsing online listings and setting up fake appointments to get access to empty homes. Some people do not even realize they are squatting because scam artists sometimes set up a fake listing for an empty property and then draft fake lease agreements. It is particularly easy to get away with in blue states. In many cases, it can take around three months to get a court hearing to evict squatters and a further three months before a deputy can arrive and clear the home out.

Squatting is out of control in Atlanta

Some areas of the country are particularly vulnerable. For example, around 1200 homes in Atlanta and the surrounding area have been taken over by squatters, with some of them even opening up an illegal strip club on a property that they are occupying. The problem is so widespread that one company actually places ads on social media offering a service that finds nice squatter homes for people and helps them get around the police. Some desperate homeowners there have taken to paying off squatters to get them to leave.

National Rental Home Council CEO David Howard told the Daily Mail: "Incidents of illegal trespassing in the Atlanta metro area are disproportionately higher than comparable markets across the country."

He believes that networks of organized crime are involved, adding: "The sheer volume and consistency of practice in terms of how these incidents happen are clearly indicative of some kind of organized criminal effort."