Is Your Vacant Property a Liability? 3 Risks and How to Avoid Squatters

cash going down the drain

Inheriting a house, relocating for work, or waiting for the right market conditions can all lead to owning a vacant property. While having an unused space might initially seem appealing, vacant properties come with hidden risks. At JMS Home Buyers, we understand homeowners face tough decisions regarding vacant properties.

This blog post dives into the potential downsides of owning a vacant property, specifically focusing on preventing unwanted occupants – squatters. We’ll also explore the question many homeowners grapple with: should I sell my vacant property, or are there ways to make it work for me?

3 Risks of Owning a Vacant Property

Financial Drain

Vacant properties can quickly become a financial burden for homeowners. You’re responsible for ongoing costs like the mortgage (if applicable), property taxes, and insurance premiums. These expenses add up quickly, especially considering recent upward trends in Charlotte, NC.

One significant factor is rising property assessments. According to Mecklenburg County, with increases in sales prices in recent years, property assessments have jumped an average of 51%. This translates to higher property taxes, further squeezing finances for vacant property owners.

On top of rising assessments, homeowner’s insurance rates have also seen upward trends. Unoccupied property can become a significant financial drain without rental income to offset these ongoing costs.

Vandalism & Squatters: Increased Vulnerability due to Lack of Occupants

A vacant property is an open invitation for trouble. Without the watchful eyes of residents, vacant properties become prime targets for vandalism and unwelcome occupants like squatters. These vacant property risks can lead to significant financial losses and emotional stress.

A news story from WCNC Charlotte highlighted an incident regarding the risk of owning a vacant property that resulted in squatters. The report detailed a house in Ballantyne that sat empty for months, only to be taken over by squatters who claimed to be victims of a rental scam.

Neighbors lived in fear and uncertainty for several months as the squatters resided in the property. The eviction process took time, leaving the homeowner to deal with the aftermath of a trashed house.

This story exemplifies the dangers of vacant properties. Without occupants, these properties become vulnerable to unwanted guests who can cause significant damage and disrupt the surrounding community.

Deterioration & Code Violations

Vacant properties are like unattended gardens – they deteriorate quickly without proper care. Left unoccupied, these properties are susceptible to faster wear and tear, leading to potential code violations from the city. Common issues include roof leaks from clogged gutters, overgrown lawns attracting pests, or broken windows creating security vulnerabilities. These problems decrease the property value and can result in hefty fines from the city for failing to comply with local codes.

Unattended deterioration can also create an attractive haven for unwanted guests, like squatters, who may exploit these weaknesses to gain access. These challenges can leave you wondering, “Should I sell my vacant property?” While selling might seem like a quick solution, there might be other options to consider, depending on your circumstances. We’ll explore these alternatives later in the blog post.

chalk board with finger point to the words take action

Taking Action: 3 Ways to Mitigate Vacant Property Risks

Owning a vacant property can be a double-edged sword. While it offers potential future benefits, it also comes with challenges. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks associated with vacant properties, specifically those that could attract unwanted occupants like squatters. Here are three key strategies to consider:

Rent it Out: Turning Your Vacant Property into an Income Stream and Deterrent

Renting your vacant property can be a win-win solution. Rental income helps offset vacancy costs like property taxes, insurance, and mortgage payments. More importantly, having tenants occupying the space deters vandalism and discourages squatters. A well-maintained property with responsible tenants significantly reduces the risk of someone attempting to establish illegal residency (squatting). Finding and managing tenants requires some effort, but property management companies are available to assist you with screening tenants, handling maintenance requests, and collecting rent.

Secure the Property: Creating a Fortress Against Unwanted Access

A proactive approach to security is crucial for preventing unwanted access, especially for those looking to exploit a vacant property. Here are some steps you can take to physically secure your vacant property and make it less appealing to potential squatters:

  • Fortify Entry Points: Install sturdy deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and consider reinforcing door jambs. Consider boarding them up with plywood or installing security bars for vulnerable windows. These measures deter break-ins and make it physically more difficult for someone to break in.
  • Light Up the Night: Motion-sensor floodlights around the perimeter deter nighttime activity and improve visibility for security cameras. Increased lighting discourages those who prefer to operate under darkness, making your vacant property less attractive for potential squatters.
  • Consider a Security System: Installing a monitored security system with alarms and remote access provides peace of mind and can significantly deter potential squatters. Security systems with features like window and door breach alerts can be especially helpful in preventing squatters from gaining a foothold in your vacant property.
Security MeasuresDescription
Fortify Entry PointsInstall sturdy deadbolt locks on exterior doors, reinforce door jambs, consider boarding up windows with plywood, or install security bars to deter break-ins.
Light Up the NightInstall motion-sensor floodlights around the perimeter to deter nighttime activity and improve visibility for security cameras, making the property less attractive to intruders
Consider a Security SystemInstall a monitored security system with alarms and remote access. Features like window and door breach alerts can prevent squatters from gaining access to the vacant property.

Regular Inspections: Proactive Maintenance to Prevent Problems and Deterioration

Unoccupied, property requires regular maintenance to prevent problems from escalating and creating opportunities for unwanted guests. Schedule periodic inspections to check for potential issues that could attract squatters seeking shelter:

  • Plumbing Leaks: Look for signs of water damage or malfunctioning appliances that could lead to leaks. A neglected leak can create a damp and potentially habitable environment, making it more appealing for squatters.
  • Electrical Issues: Ensure no exposed wiring or outdated electrical components pose safety hazards. Exposed wiring or faulty electrical systems create fire risks and can be a significant deterrent for potential tenants, making the property more likely to remain vacant and vulnerable.
  • Roof Condition: Check for missing shingles, clogged gutters, or any signs of potential leaks. A damaged roof will lead to water damage inside the property, creating an environment conducive to squatters seeking shelter.
  • Overall Security Measures: Verify that windows and doors remain secured and there are no signs of attempted break-ins. Regularly checking for signs of forced entry helps ensure the property remains secure and discourages squatters from exploiting weaknesses.

By securing your property, addressing potential issues early, and deterring unwanted access, you can significantly reduce the risk of squatters taking advantage of your vacant property.

Explore Your Options and Find Peace of Mind

Is your vacant property causing more stress than peace of mind? At JMS Home Buyers, we understand the challenges of owning a vacant rental property. Whether you’re facing financial burdens, dealing with unwanted guests, or simply ready to move on, we can help.

Don’t wait any longer! Call JMS Home Buyers today at 704-707-6016 to explore your options for selling your vacant property. We offer a fast, hassle-free process and a fair cash offer. Let us help you turn your vacant property into a positive outcome.

Additionally, for a limited time, mention this blog post when you call and receive a free consultation with one of our experienced property specialists! We’ll assist you in finding the best solution that fits your needs by answering your questions and exploring all options. Contact JMS Home Buyers today to take control of your vacant property’s potential.

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