Texas is a big state and full of buildings.  Buildings that are occupied, or not occupied,  Homes, and apartments are for rent all over the state or awaiting a new tenant.

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These are the types of places that attract people who are looking for housing without having to pay for it. These locations are ideal for squatters.

The dictionary defines a squatter as

a person who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land.

Lately, more and more horror stories have hit the internet about squatters who take over people's properties.   For instance, a person rents your home and then stops paying your rent and they continue to live in the property and refuse to leave.  You can't just kick them out.  You have to jump through hoops to remove a squatter from your property.  Sometimes, these people will stay in these homes and apartments indefinitely.

Terri Boyette had her home overtaken by a squatter when she left to go and take care of her ailing mother.

 

Boyette went to the police and they were unable to help her because the squatter had been living in the home for more than 10 days and she would have to start the eviction process.  It took her 8 months to get the eviction finalized.  During that time, her belongings were stolen and sold, and her home was destroyed.

Boyette isn't the only Texas homeowner who is dealing with squatters.

This isn't only happening with homes and apartments, it is also happening with Airbnb.  Those using Airbnb, Vrbo, and other vacation rental sites are having people squat after their initial rental.

According to the Texas A&M Texas Real Estate Research Center squatters rights in Texas were introduced so land in the Lone Star State wouldn't be wasted.  People could claim corners of large properties and make improvements and the government would give them ownership of those corners.

Now squatters use this loophole to gain possession of the property and sometimes they can gain ownership of the property without the rightful owner's permission.

You cannot legally forcibly remove a squatter from your property.  You must follow the legal eviction process to remove the squatter and regain possession of your property.

Steps to take to evict a squatter:

  • Give the squatter a 3-day notice to vacate the property.
  • If the situation is not resolved within three days, file an eviction lawsuit.
  • Be prepared for the squatter to oppose the eviction.
  • Wait for the court's ruling.
  • If the court rules in your favor, you can request a law enforcement officer to remove the squatter from your property.
  • Be prepared to spend lots of money to repair your home or property

What's being done about squatters in Texas?

On May 15th, Senator Paul Bettencourt and Senators Hall, Parker, Paxton & West held a hearing about securing Texas against squatters.

“I invited the public from all over the state to tell their horror squatter stories and proposed solutions. This should not be happening in Texas. We are going to make it easy for homeowners and business owners to "Come and Take it Back" from squatters," said Senator Bettencourt.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick assigned an interim charge to protect Texans against squatters.

Hopefully, big changes will be coming soon to protect property owners from squatters in Texas.

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