With a shortage of housing, rising prices, and gaps in the law, squatting has become a dangerous trend for homeowners and property managers across Arizona.

What Does Squatting Mean in Arizona?

When a homeowner gets ready to sell a property, they generally address fundamental concerns like basic repairs, refreshing the paint, and ensuring everything is in order so that future homeowners get the best value.

Squatters taking over Arizona properties are a growing problem in Arizona.
Law enforcement cannot always intervene with squatters on property. // Canva

These days, there's something else to worry about and the problem is growing across Arizona: squatters taking over the property. And the law may be on their side.

According to iPropertyManagement.com,  "squatting refers to the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied property without the owner’s permission".

The worst part? Depending on the circumstances, squatting in Arizona could be legal under adverse possession laws.

According to ARS 12-522, "when a party is in possession of real property and claims it only by right of possession, actions to recover possession from them must be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues and not afterward."

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How Squatters Take Over a Property in Arizona

One of the main problems with squatters is that the laws governing squatting in Arizona are civil rather than criminal. Squatters can claim rights to your property after occupying it for a period of time that ranges anywhere from two to ten years, depending on the circumstances.I

Squatters taking over Arizona properties are a growing problem in Arizona.
Getting squatters off your property can be a frustrating, expensive legal process. // Canva

In many cases, the law is on the side of the squatter. Worse yet, getting squatters off your property can be extremely expensive, costing upwards of $70 thousand or more in legal action.

Here's a news story from ABC News on YouTube that gives a good overview of what's happening across the country:

Attracting squatters to your property could be as simple as listing it for sale or planting a "for sale" sign in your yard. It could be a signal to potential squatters that the home may be unoccupied.

Squatters taking over Arizona properties are a growing problem in Arizona.
Squatters who take over properties can cause a lot of damage. // Canva

Squatting in Arizona is Complex

In Arizona, the issue is complex, and there are several ways squatters take over your property:

  • By using identity theft
  • Forging documents that "grant rights" to stay in the home
  • Undocumented immigrants looking for shelter
  • Holdover tenants who don't move out after the end of a lease
  • Setting up a "party" home, causing expensive damage to the property

Identity theft is a growing problem. Squatters may use fraudulent documents to claim they have a right to be on the property, especially if you're renting the property out. Some potential renters use stolen identities when they initially rent, so when you run a background check, everything looks fine.

Then the "renters" pay rent for the first and last month, plus any deposits. Then they stop paying. When property managers attempt to go after the occupants for the rent, they reach a legal dead end. Getting these folks off your property could turn into a nightmare.

Squatters taking over Arizona properties are a growing problem in Arizona.
A housing shortage and an influx of undocumented citizens is contributing to the crisis. // Canva

Another growing problem is the intersection of illegal immigration and squatting. With the flood of undocumented immigrants and the shortage of available housing, some individuals turn to squatting for shelter. This adds yet another complex layer to the legal landscape.

Home squatting in Arizona is a growing challenge. It's affecting communities and property owners and adding more burden to the legal system. Law enforcement is reluctant to get involved and the legal repercussions can be lengthy and extremely damaging.

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