How to Deal With a Squatter Occupied Property
With the financial devastation that covid-19 and its lockdown restrictions have caused, as well as governmental policies loosening their policy on evictions, a rise in squatter occupied properties has occurred. Maybe you are a landlord with a non-paying tenant and you’re not sure what to do. Or you are an owner with family members that have overstayed their welcome.
Squatter occupied properties are on the rise in Philadelphia and New Jersey, as well as nationwide. In Philadelphia, you can expect an ejectment for a squatter occupied property to happen anywhere from 6 months to over a year after you first send a legal notice. Below are some options to consider when you have a squatter, or non-paying tenant situation. Please note that the below is for informational purposes only and you should always consult a qualified legal professional for legal advice.
Negotiate a Lease
Maybe you have an existing lease that the tenant can no longer afford to pay. Perhaps they lost their job due to covid-19 or for some other circumstance. They may just stop paying altogether, which solves their rent problem and keeps a roof over their head for a while. If the tenant is non-paying and it is before their lease is up, you may be able to file for an eviction. If the tenant has stayed past their lease expiration date, you can no longer evict without a current lease. You may offer a lease for a substantially less amount of money with the tenant. This will accomplish two things: 1) Have some sort of cash going into your pocket each month and 2) Create legal grounds to once again file for eviction, should they decide to not perform what they agreed to on the lease.
Cash for Keys
Another option is to offer “cash for keys” to the squatter. Basically, you would pay the unwanted occupant to leave the property by a certain time in exchange for cash. Make sure you have an agreement written up and signed by them, and notarized, if possible. We at Property Buyer Connect have found that the squatter is not usually responsive to this at first. However, after they’ve received an initial letter in the mail from a lawyer, they are more likely to work with you. This is not an easy negotiation to pull off, and the success rate is low.
File for Ejection
If the squatter is not under a current lease agreement, you could simply file for ejection with a lawyer. This of course, is the last option for most people since it will cost a lot of time and money. You can expect typical ejectment costs in Philadelphia and South Jersey to be in the range of $3,000-5,000. And with a current moratorium on evictions and ejectments, expect this process to take a long time. Even in normal times, 3-6 months is typical.
One thing you’ll want to avoid at all costs is threatening or bullying the current occupants! Some people try to send people to scare the occupants. Or owners might shut off utilities on them. With current tenant laws, these types of things are illegal and are seen very poorly if your case ever goes before a judge. Do not try this!
At Property Buyer Connect, we have dealt with several different squatter situations, and are well versed in the matter. We have negotiated many cash for key deals. We also have connections with great eviction and ejectment lawyers. If you are not sure you want to handle a squatter situation, call us! We will be able to help you out. Give us a call today at 215-770-3122 or message us to speak further about your squatter occupied property.