How to Identify an Informal Settler

How to Identify an Informal Settler

Gloved hands shove a pry bar into a door lock text reads How to Identify an Informal settler

Have you ever heard the use of the word “squatters” and wondered what it meant?  

Squatters are known as informal settlers or unauthorized occupants who occupy a property without legal ownership or permission. They have become a growing concern in many HOA communities due to the lack of affordable housing options, rapid urbanization, and economic disparities. 

Informal settlers strategically find an apartment or house to occupy since they cannot afford to own a place of their own. They do this to seek shelter and protect themselves from the outside elements.  

As it is understandable why an informal settler may want to seek shelter, it poses a threat to your HOA community due to safety concerns. Many informal settlers are strangers cohabiting in the homes of your community members without permission.  

In this article, the types of informal settlers will be explained and how you can identify them. In addition, we will discuss how your HOA can prevent squatters. By being aware of squatters, your HOA community can work together to maintain a safe and harmonious community environment.  

Types of Informal Settlers and How to Identify Them 

There are three main types of informal settlers and several ways to identify each of them. The types are known as opportunity squatters, professional squatters, and activist squatters.  

Opportunity Settlers 

These are individuals who take advantage of abandoned or unoccupied properties. They identify properties that appear vacant or neglected and move in without any legal right to do so. Signs of opportunity for settlers may include broken windows, overgrown gardens, or lack of maintenance. They often occupy properties temporarily until they are discovered or until they find another empty property to move into. 

Professional Settlers  

Unlike opportunity settlers, professional squatters usually target properties that are still in use or have recently been vacated. They exploit legal loopholes and knowledge of tenant rights to occupy a property for extended periods, sometimes even years, without paying rent or adhering to any legal obligations. These squatters are skilled at avoiding eviction and may provide fake documents or leases to appear as legitimate tenants. Frequent property visits without meeting the actual owner or tenants can be a potential indicator of professional settlers. 

Activist Settlers 

Activist squatters have a political or social agenda and occupy properties to protest certain issues or to raise awareness about specific causes. They may target government-owned properties, abandoned buildings, or properties owned by large corporations. Activist settlers often utilize squatted properties as community centers, art spaces, or shelters for the homeless. They may leave behind signs, banners, or statements indicating their purpose for squatting. 

How Your HOA Community Can Prevent Informal Settlers 

To prevent informal settlers from inhabiting your HOA community, there are several things that you can do.  

Here are four measures that your HOA community should consider upholding.  

1. Your HOA community can establish a comprehensive screening process for potential residents. This can include verifying their legal status and conducting background checks to ensure that they have a legitimate claim to reside in the community. Additionally, your HOA can enforce strict policies regarding property ownership, including requiring proof of ownership and prohibiting the subletting or renting of properties without prior approval. 

2. Ensure proper monitoring and enforcement of your HOA community's rules and regulations. Regular inspections of properties can help identify any potential unauthorized residents or instances of overcrowding, and swift action should be taken to address these issues. Your HOA can also establish a neighborhood watch program to encourage residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities or individuals. 

3. To protect your community members, your HOA can invest in security measures such as installing CCTV cameras, improving lighting in common areas, and implementing access control systems like gated entries or keyless entry systems. Regular security patrols can also be conducted to discourage criminal activities and ensure the safety of residents. 

Are you interested in starting a neighborhood watch? Learn more here!  

4. Foster a sense of community and belonging among your members. This can be achieved through organizing regular social events and promoting open communication channels between residents and the HOA board. By building strong relationships, your residents will be more inclined to look out for one another and report any potential security threats or concerns promptly. 

If you want to learn innovative ways to enhance your community engagement, click here! 

Protect Your HOA Community with Management Plus 

At Management Plus, we are dedicated to helping your HOA community protect your community members. We understand the importance of a safe environment for your residents and are here to provide you with the necessary tools and expertise to do that. 

By partnering with us, you can proactively protect your community from informal settlers, ensuring a secure and peaceful living environment for all your residents.  

Click here to start a conversation with Management Plus today to learn how we can support your community.  

Follow Management Plus on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn!  

Happy with the Management Plus difference? Leave us a quick five-star review here!