Squatters in your HOA can be a huge issue waiting to happen. Squatters in homeowners association communities shouldn’t stay there. But when they do show up, it can be a complicated matter involving homeowner’s rights against squatters, versus squatter’s rights. It’s best to prevent squatters in an HOA if you can manage that. And when they do come up, let’s look at how to get rid of squatters in foreclosed homes, as well.
Squatters in Your HOA: A Preventable Problem
Homelessness is a serious problem throughout the country. Thus, homeowners associations are faced with the reality that squatters are a potential issue that can come up. So despite the HOA’s best efforts, squatters in homeowners associations can come up in various ways. They can even be people you know who just found themselves in a tight situation with their foreclosure. Other times, there could be just some people looking for a place to crash, at no cost to them.
If these squatters are merely taking up space they are not meant to, then the problem might seem to stop there. In condominium associations, for example, squatting cases don’t rank high in the list of their concerns. Other managed communities, however, are not so fortunate.
Some people are just determined – or desperate, to occupy homes, so you may sometimes hear about concerning reports of break-ins. Some squatters would just drop by for a night or two. Other, more brazen ones may even resort to changing the locks. Some of the more unscrupulous ones could even start renting out the suites in a home, too.
Squatters can be a potential problem in any community—even those that are managed well and kept up regularly. You might not be sure what to do if it happens to you, so there are some things you can do—and look out for—to prepare for squatters if they occur.
Here are the best tips for handling squatters in an HOA:
Prevent Squatters in Your HOA By Keeping Track of Ownerships
Preventing squatters in your HOA starts with being able to identify them early on. That means the HOA board should make it a priority to know everyone living in their community.
Thus, it goes beyond just simple security – it becomes a problem of access control.
It’s the responsibility of the HOA board and the HOA manager to have an accurate record of residents. And not just for the purpose of fee collection, either. Associations need to be able to account for who is occupying which property at all times.
Many HOAs have provisions in their governing documents designed just for that. So every time the ownership of the home changes, the HOA needs to be notified of that. Most HOAs would also require notice for tenant occupants, as well.
To prevent squatters in your HOA community, don’t hesitate to compel sellers to notify the association. After that, it’s mostly a matter of keeping accurate records. Also, it’s important to verify those records to make sure they reflect the actual occupancy status of a home or unit, as well.
When a squatter happens, the homeowner usually isn’t aware of it. As an HOA board, you can help by keeping track of who owns what properties in your community. This helps you know whether each property should be occupied.
Stay in Regular Touch with Residents
Communicate clearly with the owners and residents in your community so you can keep track of how everyone is managing their homes. By staying in touch with everyone regularly, you can get familiar with who should generally be there and who might be squatting in a home.
Encourage residents to keep an eye out for unfamiliar people, as well. Outsiders squatting in the empty properties within your community can turn into a security issue. So remind your residents that it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure everyone in the neighborhood belongs there.
Be Mindful of Unoccupied Homes
Squatters are more likely to take advantage of properties that obviously look like no one lives there. In fact, there are many cases where homeowners are unaware that someone’s already squatting in their property. Help your owners avoid squatting situations by being mindful of piled up mail or newspaper or neglected upkeep.
Encourage members to get to know one other so neighbors can help watch out for each other’s properties.
Squatter Rights and Eviction
Unfortunately, your HOA will probably not have the right to evict someone—even if they are squatting. Sometimes, it’s a tenant who is properly paying rent to the homeowner.
If the homeowner neglects the HOA rules and does not register the lease with the association, that’s not on the tenant in many cases. What the association can do is to get that lease on their records, and have that tenant be registered with the HOA.
In case you find a person who is a true squatter, the HOA board will still need to work things out with the owner or law enforcement. For foreclosed homes, it’s the bank who is the homeowner. In this case, the HOA can start by notifying the bank or the homeowner in writing. The squatter also needs to be notified in writing, as well.
If you find someone is a squatter in your community, remember there’s not much you can do as an HOA. You’ll have to let the owner of the property know in writing and also contact the police so they can help handle it.
There’s no need to complicate matters by directly confronting the squatter. Besides, there’s no telling how an individual will react if someone comes knocking on the door to evict them. So in most cases, getting someone physically evicted is a matter best left to the police.
Also, keep in mind that if squatters become a nuisance, then the HOA does have a few options on how to deal with them authoritatively.
Squatters in Your HOA: Start with Prevention
Preventing squatters in your HOA is much easier than trying to evict them. An HOA management company can also help you handle issues like squatters by contacting the appropriate people. They can also assist in preventing the situation from happening in the first place. Good record keeping will save you a lot of headaches later on.