Invocation of squatters’ rights slowly becomes a national problem

by ian


It seems that people in the U.S. are increasingly taking advantage of squatters’ rights laws – a worryingly growing trend in the nation that has upset entire communities in some instances.

Squatters’ rights essentially stem from a series of laws passed over the history of the U.S., going as far back as the 1800s. The Homestead Act of 1862 set out to protect pioneers who traveled out West and claimed property or land that appeared to be vacant.

Since that time, states have passed individual laws further defining what constitutes a so-called “squatter” and trying to establish some legal rights so they could not be evicted from a property they claimed. But, as we see today, many people appear to be taking the system for granted.

While squatter’s rights differ by state, a person can generally invoke this immunity if they have lived on the property for at least 30 days, even if they unlawfully broke into the property to begin with. The legal process to evict squatters is also somewhat of a gray area legally speaking, meaning it could take a couple of years to resolve.

The alarming trend has begun to crop up in major U.S. cities as of late. Of note is Atlanta, where at least 1,200 examples of unlawfully occupied properties have occurred, according to the National Rental Home Council trade group.

One property was converted into an illegal strip club according to the New York Post, an example of how the publication says these squatters are “ruining entire neighborhoods.”

But the trend has gone so mainstream, that even social media influencers are advising illegal immigrants to try it. One video has made the rounds on social media of a man speaking in Spanish about such a law. Posted to X by the Libs of TikTok account, the man says the following:

My people! I have thought about invading a house in the United States. I found out that there is a law that says that if a house is not inhabited we can seize it. . . .The law says that if the house is abandoned, deteriorated, and in bad shape we can get it, repair it, and live in it and, if we can, even sell it.

The man then tells of some people he knows from Africa who have already seized “about 7 houses” under these types of laws.

The outcry over this national issue appears to have caught the attention of some politicians, who aim to address the problem. For example, Florida’s house is considering a Senate-approved bill that allows police to remove and potentially charge squatters who occupy land owned by others.

In addition, New York Republican Assemblyman Jake Blumencranz has proposed similar legislation on the matter, which is reportedly gaining bipartisan support.