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Fischer: Squatting – Good for your body, bad for your home

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 1, 2024

Photo supplied

Jen Fischer

Squatting, when done correctly, can build strength in your lower body and core muscles, boost your calorie burn, help prevent injuries and improve your balance. Admittedly, in this context, I am a squatter. I have been for some time, as I am also an adrenaline junkie. Most days, I get my fix at the gym if I can’t get it in the great outdoors. Either way, I highly recommend squatting as part of an overall full body fitness routine.

Squatting, on the other hand, in the context of taking up residence in someone else’s home without permission and for an extended period of time, is not something I recommend; yet, it is an activity that is becoming more common as well as more difficult to mitigate.

Much like a cockroach, once a squatter moves in, it doesn’t take much time before they have established a comfortable residency. While I am fortunate that I have never had squatters move into any of my rentals, I have had a couple of experiences with these unwelcome and uninvited “guests.”

My first experience was with a client who owned a rental. She had been a little too generous on delayed and insufficient rent payments and she finally heeded my advice to go through the process of eviction. After much ado, they were finally out, and we went in and changed the locks. I had the photographer come and we listed the home. The next day I met an investor there for a showing. I opened the door and, low and behold, the tenants had moved right back in during the night. They had busted out the bathroom window, let themselves in and proceeded to move all their stuff back in as well. I went out to the front porch and called the cops while the investor distracted them with small talk. Once the police came, they had to be escorted out, at which time I dragged their belongings out to the front yard, boarded up the window and had the locks rekeyed once again. The investor ended up purchasing the home and got some legitimate renters in there.

The next experience was more brazen than the first. This was a vacant home in a desirable area near downtown Salt Lake. My clients had built a home and moved into it once it was finished and they were ready to sell. We came in and took pictures, listed the home live and began showings. Just a few days after it was listed, I received a call from an agent who was showing the home. “Hey, Jen. I thought you said this home was vacant,” he exclaimed.” I told him it was. He proceeded to inform me that it was no longer vacant. Apparently, there had been quite a party there the night before and they had not only left their proverbial “party hats,” but they had also left suitcases of clothing, some bedding, and a variety of snack food and household cleaning products. Make that mean what you will, but regardless of what it meant, none of that should have been there. Fortunately, they had politely vacated for the showing, so, once again, the police, as well as the owners, were all present when they returned.

Higher rents and a more difficult economic climate are some of the main reasons this activity is becoming more common; however, there are also actual private social media pages that have set up businesses to advise people on how to become a squatter for a small fee. Sadly, because squatters have certain “rights,” the police can not always help. It can become a very expensive and drawn-out process to get rid of these invasive “bugs.”

The best practice is prevention. Installing security cameras, making the home looks lived in (even if it is vacant), checking on the property regularly or having a neighbor check on it often are all good preventative practices. As for the cockroaches, don’t leave food out, keep a clean home, and vacuum and sweep often. Homes with either problem (squatters or roaches) are difficult to sell.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.


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