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by James Safonov, HomePointe Property Management

In this tough economy some opportunists are breaking into vacant rentals for a variety of reasons.

VandalsThe vacancy is a beacon of warmth for those without housing.

People are finding vacancies by driving through neighborhoods, searching the Internet and reading the paper.

Once inside the home they use the heater, bathrooms, etc and often conduct illegal activities while the owner is away.

Once comfortable they may also sell the appliances and other portions of the property–I have seen carpet and tile pulled up and sold as well as copper piping, doors, windows , etc.

Vandalism is often an issue.

Owners and property managers can protect against this by simply going inside the vacancy two to three times a week.

At Homepointe, we show all of our vacancies 3 times weekly. We show and enter each property 3 times a week whether prospective tenants show up or not. We are able to see if any forced entry has occurred and our frequent presence deters bad guys from accessing the home.

Some tips to prevent break-ins:

  • keep a light on at night
  • keep the grass mowed
  • pick up or cancel mail and newspaper delivery

Everything helps protect your investment!

HomePointe provides full service property management providing management, leasing, accounting, and maintenance. Visit us at www.HomePointe.com. We also hold a California Contractors License through our maintenance division, RAM Property Services. We can provide complete repair and renovation services for your property. Visit us at www.RamPropertyServices.com . In addition, our landscape division can do yard cleanups, monthly service, and sprinkler repairs. Visit us at www.creeksidelawncare.com . We can also do yard installations utilizing our Landscape Contractors License. Visit us at www.creeksidelandscapeservices.com . See our vacancies at www.HomePointe.com, www.NetRent.com, www.Vast.com, www.Oodle.com, www.googlebase.com, www.craigslist.com, www.HotPads.com, www.Move.com, www.rentbits.com and more!

See a related feature, What To Do When a Tenant Leaves Early.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment including REAL ESTATE FORMS, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

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  • Kenneth Gargala

    good sound advice.. but you should also discuss what a landlord can do to get RID of the squatter once they move in…

  • This isn’t an article, this is an advertisement. In some states even squatters have legal rights. This doesn’t address any issues such as how to get rid of them and what the rights and responsibilities of the landlord are.

  • Once a landlord or property manager discovers the squatter they may be fortunate enough to scare them out by their presence alone. Often it is kids or individuals who do not want to be subjected to law enforcement. If they do not leave your first step should be to call 911 and report a breakin in progress. Be prepared to wait as this type of call does not generate a prompt response unless someone is in harms way. Once law enforcement arives they typically escort the squatter out–they may or may not be arrested.

    In the case you have a savvy squatter: unfortunately an eviction will be required. Some educated squatters are able to forge rental agreements and change locks so they can show the responding law enforcement their “right” to occupy the home. In this case the officer will tell you it is a civil issue and you must employ the courts to evict them.

    Some groups posing as “civil rights” advocates actually detail in handouts how a squatter can “legally” occupy a rental for months until all appeals are exhausted.

    My original article is intended to educate managers and rental property owners of some simple steps you can take to help prevent squatters from taking advantage of them.

    James Safonov
    [email protected]
    http://www.homepointe.com

  • Hire a security agency to patrol vacant properties. Much better roi when a live security officer patrols and checks for signs of attempted breach of a properties secured perimeter. Too expensive to arm each vacant property with security systems and welcome by neighbors concerned about orphaned or vacant properties adjoining thiers, also security patrols can recommend repairs as they become apparent from neglect, weather or normal wear and tear.

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