Although it’s not incredibly common to have a run-in with squatters, there are instances in which the issue arises. In many cases, it’s nearly impossible to evict the “unwanted” tenants. Fortunately, there are experts in nearly everything and Flash Shelton, a well-known handy man has shared some advice.
Handyman Shares Handy Advice
The United Handy Man Association was founded by Flash Shelton. He and the organization have made it their mission to help bring handymen and customers together. They work with their employees to ensure background certification, licensing, and insurance are all up to date and legitimate. Simultaneously, helping handymen meet those qualifications and get their businesses up and running.
With all that they do, and Flash Stelton’s personal mission to share his knowledge, it’s not surprising that he’s become quite popular on Instagram as well as YouTube and TikTok. Within the last few months, he’s shared some information regarding squatters, in the hopes of helping others through a seemingly hopeless situation.
Expert Advice to Remove Squatters
Shelton disclosed that he helped to evict squatters who’d move into his parents’ house after his father passed away, taking advantage of his mother. “Squatters are ruining lives, and they’re taking homes and homes that people have worked their whole lives for,” he said. “My mom didn’t deserve to have to go through that.”
He then decided to help others who may face issues involving removing squatters from their homes. Shelton explains that his technique in the past has been to also become a tenant, becoming invasive so to speak. He walks in and introduces himself to the squatters. He then explains this is his new home. Next, Shelton begins installing security cameras and taking over other parts of the home.
First Priority is Safety
In many cases, squatters are homeless as a result of substance abuse or untreated mental health problems. Therefore, their behavior can become erratic, violent, or unpredictable. This can increase the concerns of safety for the homeowner and their family. Shelton disclosed that he’s been trained in numerous de-escalation techniques. Therefore, he doesn’t recommend people try this method on their own.
Alternatively, Shelton may be willing to intervene. In some cases, when a homeowner wants to “evict” squatters, he’ll have them write up a new lease agreement, adding him to the tenants list. He’ll then do his part to make the squatters feel obligated to leave for you. “People kind of want to get away as fast as possible, and they don’t want to be seen,” he explained.
Shelton has helped some families in California get rid of squatters personally. Furthermore, he’s willing to schedule a zoom call with tips and ideas for families in other states. “I prepare so much ahead of time and because I know all about who I’m going to deal with. I I know how many people there are,” Shelton explained. “There are risks involved. I don’t recommend that people do this on their own, but I will help you and give you tools and try to help you do it in a peaceful way.”
“There’s a job to do, and it’s all with safety in mind,” he continued, concluding, “Being certified in de-escalation helps me remain calm and in control of the situation without making it more physical or exaggerated or raising tempers.”
Recognizing the Signs
Although handyman Shelton has firsthand experience and offers some really great advice, dealing with squatters as a grueling process and often comes with several roadblocks regarding legality. According to Zillow, squatters fall under a few categories including:
- Someone who’s illegally broken into the home and begun living there.
- Someone who was added to lease after (a sub-lease or roommate) who refuses to leave at the end of the lease.
- A tenant who’s failed to pay their rent for several months, or allowed their lease to expire, and still refuses to leave.
- Living on a property without ownership of a property, or permission from the person whose name is on the deed.
Furthermore, most squatters don’t have any respect for themselves, let alone a person they’ve illegally moved in with. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have invited themselves to move in. Unfortunately, this means that homeowners and landlords run certain risks when they have squatters in the home, which only adds a greater desire to remove them. Some risks include stolen or damaged property, an invasion of personal space and privacy, and as previously mentioned, safety risks for the family.
Squatters Have Rights Too
However, when families are dealing with squatters, it becomes a huge hassle because squatters have rights too. Luckily, there are some general steps that every landlord or homeowner can take to “evict” unwanted “tenants” from their homes.
First and foremost, keep in mind that it is illegal to shut off utilities or change the locks until you’ve gone through the steps of legally evicting the squatters. The first step is to call the police. They may be able to remove the person from the home or inform the homeowner if a civil suit is necessary.
Next, a homeowner or landlord must then serve an eviction notice, this legally forces them to leave the property. In some cases, this may be all it takes for them leave.
However, if you’ve served the notice and they’re still there, file a “civil lawsuit” for the squatter’s “illegal use of property”. Although there is a small fee associated with taking squatters to court, the reward will be well worth it when you can once again call the police to have all unwanted “tenants” removed from the property, legally and hopefully, permanently.
It’s also important to know that even if you want all their stuff gone as soon as possible, you’ll still need to contact a local legal professional. Ask about your state’s, county’s, or city’s Adverse Possession Laws.
Be aware that each state has its own laws regarding “squatter’s rights”. However, they do have some rights in every state. E-Forms has a list of rules that applies to each of the 50 states and although the site does lean more towards empowering squatters, it will allow the homeowner to be prepared for anything that might arise during the lawsuit.
- “About.” United Handy Man Association
- “How to Remove Squatters.” Zillow. February 4, 2020.
- “Legal How-To: Getting Squatters Evicted.” Find Law February 4, 2023.
- “This handyman will move in with your squatters and force them out.” New York Post. Kassy Dillon August 11, 2023.
- “Getting Rid of Squatters: What Landlords Must Know.” Rent Prep. Kristi Mergenhagen. May 31, 2023.