Be Careful With Your Vacant Properties

  • Johannes Steinbeck
  • 05/29/20
Scenario No. 1: You put your property on the market for sale. The property is vacant. Per COVID-19 guidelines you no longer do open houses, but showings per requests. Out of the blue, you get a call from your neighbor, “you had a big party on your property last night, did you rent it out or something?” WHAT!
Scenario No. 2: You just closed the deal on a residential property as an investment property.
The unit is currently vacant, listed and advertised 'available for rent'. Several days after, you get a call from someone who says, “I am interested in renting the 3-bedroom house, but do you still have people living in it. I drove by, and it looks like some people are living there.” WHAT!
These are situations that occurred before the COVID-19 crisis, but now it is becoming more common. As an owner, what can do to protect yourself? Often times, it becomes extremely difficult to remove illegal trespassers once they settle in your property. These trespassers may even have fake lease agreements or take out utility bills to make removal of them from the property challenging. My article will not discuss any legal remedy , but only to offer practical advice to how to reduce the risk of squatters/trespassers from my experience as a real-estate agent and homeowner.

Here Are Some Measures You Can Take Minimize Such Risk:

1. Fully Secure the Premises Once It Is Vacated
  • Check for entry points that may be vulnerable to breaking and entering, and add extra protection, such as extra locks, for protection.
  • Add an alarm or security system. (There are systems that will notify you when there is movement in the property.)
  • If appropriate, add in extra gate or fence structure.
  • Hire someone to house sit your property. (Yes, there are professional house sitters.)
2. Look Out for Signs of Trespassing
  • Check the property yourself or ask someone to check the property daily.
  • Ask the neighbors to contact you or your real estate agent if they observe any unusual activities
3. Have Your Documents Ready
  • Have documents proving that ownership of the property in a safe and ease to access place. This is in case you need to show them to an officer.
4. Take Immediate Action Once Someone Breaks In
  • As soon as you learn that someone has broken into your property, call the police immediately to help remove the trespassers. (Do NOT take on the trespassers yourself--always call the police immediately.)
  • You may want to consult an attorney at the same time.
  • Be prepared to have documents proving ownership to the police immediately.
  • If possible, take photographs of signs of breaking and entering and the condition of the house.

For legal advice and potential remedies, please consult a licensed attorney.
Hopefully, by taking certain actions will help prevent trespassers from moving onto your property, and prevent the headaches of dealing with trespassers.
*The article is not based on the review of any specific lease or factual circumstances. It is also not intended to be legal advice. Please seek legal advice from an licensed attorney for any legal matter or dispute arising in connection with your property.

Work With Johannes

Johannes navigates the beautiful and lush neighborhoods of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with ease. He has built strong relationships and gained a combination of neighborhood knowledge and transactional expertise.