Protect Your Property: Tips for Non-Owner Occupied Homeowners to Prevent Squatter Situations

Owning property in Queens can be a lucrative investment, but it also comes with risks, especially for absentee homeowners. One of the most concerning risks is the possibility of squatters illegally occupying your property and potentially gaining legal rights to it. Squatter situations can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining to resolve. However, with proactive measures and strategic planning, non-owner occupied homeowners in Queens can significantly reduce the risk of squatter incidents. Here are some essential tips to safeguard your property and prevent squatter rights from being established:

The first line of defense against squatters is to secure your property effectively. Install sturdy locks on all doors and windows, and consider adding security cameras and alarm systems to deter unauthorized entry. Regularly inspect the property to ensure that all security measures are in place and functioning correctly. Cameras like Wyze cameras or Ring cameras are a great option and many of our clients use them.

If you’re unable to personally oversee your property, enlist the help of a trusted property management company to conduct regular inspections. Scheduled visits can help identify any signs of unauthorized occupation early on, allowing you to take prompt action before the situation escalates. Our suggestion for absentee owners is to check in on the property at least 4 times a year (i.e. once a quarter).

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A well-maintained property sends a clear message that it is actively monitored and cared for. Keep the lawn mowed, maintain landscaping, and address any maintenance issues promptly. An unkept property may attract unwanted attention and opportunistic squatters looking for neglected homes. Set yourself reminders for annual home maintenance, or you can make sure to schedule maintenance as you check on the house every quarter.

Ensure that you have clear documentation proving your ownership of the property. Keep copies of deeds, titles, and other relevant documents in a safe place. Having solid evidence of ownership can help expedite legal proceedings in the event of a squatter situation. You can access ownership documents in NYC via Acris or you can visit the Department of Buildings.

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Stay connected with neighbors and encourage them to report any suspicious activity on your property. Neighbors can serve as additional eyes and ears, helping to identify potential squatter threats before they become problematic. This is a great way to make sure that your home has eyes on it and does not face any unlawful intrusion. Go and talk with your neighbors so that you can help each other protect your homes.

Even if you’re not physically present at the property, find ways to demonstrate occupancy. For example, hire a lawn care service to maintain the property regularly, install timers on lights to create the appearance of someone being home, and forward mail to a designated address to avoid accumulation.

Familiarize yourself with the laws regarding squatter rights in your jurisdiction, and consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney to understand your rights and legal options. A legal expert can provide guidance on preventive measures and steps to take in case of a squatter situation. To learn more about Squatter laws in NY, you can check out this article or this blog post from RentRedi.

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If you suspect that squatters have unlawfully occupied your property, it’s crucial to take immediate action. Document any evidence of occupancy, such as unauthorized belongings or alterations to the property, and contact local law enforcement and legal authorities to initiate the eviction process.

By implementing these proactive measures and staying vigilant, non-owner occupied homeowners in Queens can minimize the risk of squatter situations and protect their valuable investment properties. Remember that prevention is key, and investing time and resources into safeguarding your property now can save you from significant headaches and expenses down the road.

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