As Squatters Vow To Take Over American Homes, Lawmakers Need To Take Action

No American homeowner should be forced out of their property by dishonest people attempting to manipulate the law for any amount of time, let alone years.

Single family homes in a residential neighborhood in San Marcos, Texas, US, on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. The National Association of Realtors is scheduled to release existing homes sales figures on March 21. Photographer: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A common assumption is that American homeowners are protected from illegal property takeovers.

However, in many cities and states, people are allowed to use laws intended to protect tenants to instead take control of homes over objections from rightful owners. Not only is this immoral, it’s an affront to the private property rights that our founders so highly regarded.

This is a growing problem known as squatting that has been made worse by the millions of illegal border crossings in the past few years.

TikTok videos from Leonel Moreno, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, encouraging migrants to “invade” unoccupied homes in the United States went viral earlier this year, angering Americans who value property rights and the rule of law.

Moreno crossed the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, in 2022 and later failed to appear at a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was arrested by ICE in March 2024, according to the New York Post.

“I didn’t cross the Rio Grande to work like a slave,” Moreno said in one video. “I came to the U.S. to mark my territory.”

We are facing an unprecedented crisis: we have an invasion at our southern border.

People are entering our country in complete disregard of our laws and, in some cases, continuing their lawless behavior inside the U.S.

President Joe Biden and his administration are fueling this crisis by opening our border and offering no legitimate repercussions for crossing it, even as it affects the property and lives of Americans.

This, coupled with COVID-era eviction moratoriums and housing shortages, has helped spark a rapid rise of squatting, James Burling, vice president of legal affairs at the Pacific Legal Foundation, told Fox News. There are many examples of American citizens and even illegal immigrants taking control of homes that don’t belong to them.

CBS News reports several illegal immigrants, including a child under the age of ten, were found squatting in a Bronx home in March with guns and bags of cocaine and ketamine. The home, in a neighborhood another resident described as “quiet,” was across the street from a school.

“I’m really fearful that these people are going to get away with stealing my home,” the homeowner said at the time.

A self-identified “professional squatter” in Chicago took over the home of a woman who had just inherited it from her deceased mother. The squatter reportedly lived in the house for months before finally being evicted.

And squatters in one Atlanta suburb allegedly turned a 4,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home into an illegal strip club complete with live horses.

“Is this even America anymore? We are homeowners and we can’t even do anything about trespassers?” a distressed neighbor told the New York Post.

Similar scenes are playing out across America, threatening the private property rights and liberties of far too many Americans. There’s even a political movement in Europe encouraging the deceitful practice. We must put a stop to this by placing the power back into the hands of the property owner.

In the years it can take to remove illegal squatters, legitimate owners can accrue thousands of dollars in legal fees, property repairs, and lost revenue.

No American homeowner should be forced out of their property by dishonest people attempting to manipulate the law for any amount of time, let alone years. The problem is that many states make it far too easy.

In California, for example, a squatter can reportedly claim tenant rights after just 30 days of occupancy, forcing legitimate property owners to go through the legal eviction process to get them out. Several other states have similar protections, according to The National Desk.

In Tennessee, we have strengthened our laws to protect homeowners and private property rights.

Property owners should be able to immediately take back what’s rightfully theirs. While the Volunteer State gives no rights to squatters, initiating a judicial eviction can be a time-consuming process.

That is why I worked to pass a new law ensuring no Tennessean is held hostage by squatters. This law establishes an expedited removal process allowing property owners in this state to restore possession of their property in as little as 72 hours. It also permits the local sheriff to arrest the trespassers.

This common-sense approach prioritizes law-abiding people, not entitled criminals.

Homeownership is the American dream and squatting poses a legitimate risk to that dream. The Biden administration has abandoned all sanity and put Americans at serious risk by refusing to enforce our immigration laws. States can and should pass laws to confront this problem when and where they can.

I encourage other state leaders to use as a model what we have done in Tennessee, what Florida has done, and what other conservative strongholds have done protecting property rights to ensure no American risks losing their land to squatters.

* * *

Tim Rudd represents District 34 in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  As Squatters Vow To Take Over American Homes, Lawmakers Need To Take Action