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A Comprehensive Guide to Preventing Squatting in Your Vacant Home

March 27, 20243 min read

A Comprehensive Guide to Preventing Squatting in Your Vacant Home

In the current real estate climate, where properties may sit vacant during the selling process, a new concern has emerged for homeowners: squatting. This unauthorized occupation can lead to significant legal and financial headaches. Here’s an expanded guide on how to protect your property from squatters, ensuring your home remains secure and ready for sale.

Understand the Risks of Squatting

Squatting occurs when individuals unlawfully occupy vacant properties. This can lead to property damage, legal battles to reclaim ownership, and potential safety issues for neighbors and communities. Understanding these risks is the first step in prevention.

Regular Property Inspections

Maintain a routine of inspecting your property. If you're unable to do so personally, enlist the help of neighbors, friends, or a professional property management company. Regular inspections can deter squatters and identify security vulnerabilities.

Enhance Physical Security

Secure all entry points with high-quality locks, and consider installing security doors and window guards. Repair any damages that might allow easy access. A comprehensive security system with cameras and alarms serves as both a deterrent and a means to monitor your property remotely.

Install a Locking Mailbox

A locking mailbox is crucial. Squatters may attempt to use mail delivery to establish tenancy. A secure mailbox prevents unauthorized access to mail and reduces the risk of squatters receiving mail at your address, which they could use to claim residency rights.

Utilize Security Signage

Clearly visible signs stating the property is monitored, along with “No Trespassing” warnings, can act as significant deterrents to unauthorized entry. These signs should be placed at all entrances and along the perimeter of the property.

Maintain the Property's Exterior

A well-maintained exterior suggests the property is regularly attended to and occupied. Schedule routine landscaping, keep external lights operational, and consider using light timers or motion sensors to give the appearance of activity within the home.

Engage the Community

Inform neighbors and local community members that the property is vacant and being monitored. Encourage them to report any suspicious activities to you or local authorities. A vigilant community can be one of your best defenses against squatters.

Legal Protections

Review your local laws concerning squatting and trespassing. Knowing your rights and the proper legal procedures to follow if squatting occurs can expedite the process of removing unauthorized occupants. It's advisable to have a lawyer who specializes in real estate law as a point of contact.

Swift Legal Action

If you discover squatters, act immediately. Contact law enforcement to report the situation. Follow through with any required legal actions promptly to minimize the squatters' ability to claim rights to your property.

Consider Occupancy Alternatives

If your property will be vacant for an extended period, consider alternatives such as short-term rentals or hiring a property caretaker. This ensures the property remains occupied, reducing the risk of squatting.

Monitor Online Listings

Occasionally, squatters or scammers might list your vacant property for rent online. Regularly check real estate and rental listing sites to ensure your property hasn’t been fraudulently listed. If it has, report it to the website and local authorities.


Protecting your vacant property from squatters requires a proactive approach, combining physical security measures, community engagement, and legal preparedness. By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized occupation, ensuring your property remains secure and ready for a successful sale. Remember, the key to prevention is vigilance and prompt action.

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Greg Messick

Greg Messick is an experienced Portland real estate professional, known for his efficient, client-focused approach at Portland MLS Direct. His deep market knowledge makes him a trusted local real estate advisor.

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