Squatters Rights Likely to Become Huge Problem If Citizens Don’t Wise Up

By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Apr 14, 2024

The idea of a random stranger taking over your home can be frightening. But it’s happening. The presence of squatters is beginning to pop up everywhere in the country with the intent to steal your empty homes.

One migrant influencer’s TikTok video is fueling other squatters to take action. That action is to invade Americans’ homes and seize it.

Migrant TikToker’s Message Incites Fury

That influencer is Leonel Moreno, originally from Venezuela. His original TikTok account, @leitooficial_25, where he posted the video has since been removed, but the message still managed to reach his 500,000 (or so) followers.

Two men standing inside an empty room with wooden floors

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In the video, his exact words in Spanish call out to fellow migrants, saying, “My people, I’ve thought about invading a house in the United States. Because I learned there is a law that says that if a house is not inhabited we can expropriate it.”


The Law of Adverse Possession

Moreno reportedly lives somewhere in suburban Ohio, but various cases of squatting have popped up elsewhere in the country.

A wooden fence with a sign saying Private Property No Trespassing

Source: Robert So/Pexels

Each state deals with squatters differently. But Moreno is referring to the law of adverse possession, colloquially known as squatters rights. It outlines what conditions (including time period) a trespasser can gain possession of a land or property in a certain place.

Worrisome for Homeowners

The internet has even been filled with home takeover secrets from various squatters. The notion is, of course, worrisome for homeowners.

A man standing with arms raised in front of a group of people

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Homeowners in Atlanta, for example, have become particularly sensitive to the issue. Squatting is a major problem that’s making them too scared to leave the house and making it appear empty. Empty properties appear to be gold mines for unscrupulous individuals.

A Case in Flushings, NY

The case of Adele Andaloro in Flushing, Queens, New York, is touted as one of the ultimate recent horrors of a legal battle against squatters.

A pair of hands in handcuffs

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Andaloro was trying to sell her old parents’ home when she realized it had been occupied by squatters. In an attempt to evict the squatters, she changed the locks. But she was the one who ended up in handcuffs by the police.

10-Day Notice

Andaloro’s case is perhaps unique to the location of her property: New York City.

Various skyscrapers and buildings in New York City

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New York State law says squatters can claim the legal right of a property without the original owner’s permission after 10 years living there. But in New York City, it only takes 10 days. Hence, why Andaloro continues to be tangled up in a court battle.


Squatter Tip #1

Fortunately, it takes more than pushing one’s way in to claim squatter’s rights over a property. Several tips have been circulating on the dark web about the “right” way to squat.

Suitcase and cardboard boxes stacked in front of a chair

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One tip is to make sure a house is completely empty by going through real estate listings (Zillow or Trulia). Homes that have been on the market for a while with no activity whatsoever are worth checking out.


Squatter Tip #2

Another tip that sounds reasonable is to not aim for luxury. Instead, it’s better not to target million-dollar homes, but something in the lower price range.

A house with lights turned one

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Luxurious facilities may be enticing to some squatters, but it will inevitably invite authorities to check out the place. Potential new owners may also notice and then take issue, like in the case of this 2-million dollar house in Queens.


Squatter Tip #3

Occupation tips by squatters range from the practical to the bizarre, as if coming from a movie script.

A traffic cone on the sidewalk in front of a building

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The practical is like placing an orange cone in a house’s driveway; if it’s removed, the house is not as empty as it suggests. While the bizarre includes putting a burner phone’s number on a for sale/for rent sign on a property to see if it would garner a response.


A Neighborly Welcome

Funnily enough, there was a time when squatting was not really feared. Even now, if a squatter’s occupation of a blighted building comes with improvements, neighbors are more likely to turn a blind eye.

An empty stone building in Detroit with a blue car parked in front of it

Source: Andre Carrotflower/Wikimedia Commons

In some cases, like in a community with population decline such as Detroit in 2016, squatting becomes a way to revitalize the neighborhood. However, that did occur in an era before illegal immigration became an issue in the country.


Be Cautious and Vigilant

“So, should I just let people squat in my empty home?” you may ask. Absolutely not. It’s best to remain cautious and vigilant for any hostile takeovers.

A woman in suits talking a family of three in an empty home


To combat the dangers of people squatting in your vacant property, consider hiring a property manager, especially if you don’t live nearby. Other efforts include setting up “no trespassing” signs, installing an alarm system, and using motion sensors for extra alertness.


More Issues, More Squatters

The issue of squatters is not just exclusively related to immigration issues. While aggressive migrants like Moreno pose a problem, America itself is also dealing with a whole host of issues that can induce the appearance of more squatters.

A person in plaid long sleeves shirt sitting on the street while eating bread


A report says homelessness has been rising since 2017. The high mortgage rates in the US today may become a problem for homeowners. If US citizens lose their homes, where will they live? Can they squat at their own homes? It’s definitely food for thought.