Dealing with Squatters

You survived the immediate effects when the Shit Hit The Fan (SHTF), and bugged out. By preparedness, skill, fortune, or a combination of everything, you manage to survive the trip to your new home… only to find it infested with squatters.

What should you do?

What used to be called “squatters-rights” won’t exist after the SHTF. These trespassers have put their grubby paws all over your gear and are mooching off your family’s supplies.

What you do to remove these trespassers depends on the situation. Some people may want to remain as “moral” as possible by evicting the trespassers. However, sticking to your morals shouldn’t come at the expense of your life, and you need to be prepared to exterminate the infestation.

The rural community has a lot of good and decent people, but I know from experience that it has a lot of trash too[1]. Keeping this in mind, I’ve listed a few ways that may help you overcome this situation.

With Family

If your family bugs out and finds someone squatting at your new home, here’s a possible solution:

  1. Tell the family to take key positions and cover the property.
  2. Walk up with proof of ownership (utility/tax bill, deed, keys, etc.).
  3. Announce your presence while approaching… fully armed and ready for anything[2].
  4. Introduce yourself as the owner and warn the squatters of the snipers covering the property.
  5. Show proof of ownership and ask the squatters to leave.
  6. Allow the squatters no more than 5 minutes to vacate[3]. This gives them enough time to collect personal items before leaving, but also reduces the chance they’ll try stealing things or attack.
  7. Make it very clear they’re not welcome and should never return. You may want to remind them of the crime they committed and the fact that you could have killed them, and they shouldn’t squander this second chance.

If Alone

  1. Go to a vantage point that oversees the property.
  2. Spy on the squatters to verify how many there are and plan your next step.
  3. Remain at your vantage point and announce your presence to the squatters. Let them know you’re the owner and demand they disarm. Be prepared to kill if they don’t immediately comply, or if they do anything suspicious.
  4. Attach your proof of ownership to a rock and toss it toward them.
  5. Once they review the proof, tell them they have 5 minutes to leave or you’ll start shooting.

A couple things to remember regardless of being alone or with a team:

You could try ambushing the squatters, but the risk of discovery is high. Even if you spring a perfect ambush, the squatters may panic and draw weapons, forcing you to kill them. If you end up killing the squatters, you’ll need to dispose of the bodies and defend your actions should anyone come to investigate.

Whatever you do, don’t let the squatters convince you to let them stay. These people broke into your home and stole, not just your belongings, but the whole house too. They’re not to be trusted and if you’re dumb enough to give in to their pleas, you’ll wake up to a knife slitting your throat.

Neighborly Plan

What if the squatters are well armed and look a bit too dangerous to confront? What if your family still hasn’t come to terms with the new reality and you know they aren’t prepared to shoot anyone? Or, what if the family dog barks at everything it sees and blows your cover?

I know, that’s a lot of “what ifs.”

If you happen to be friends with your neighbors, or have always been friendly to them, you could ask for their assistance in reclaiming your property. If you’re friends, they’ll gladly help you. They may even feel a bit guilty for not noticing and taking action to prevent this from happening.

But what if you aren’t exactly friends, but have always been a good neighbor? They may not be as eager to help you, but I think they’ll come to your aid regardless. For starters, most people living in the country have deep-rooted morals, and helping a neighbor in need is just something you do. After all, they’d expect you to do the same thing for them if the roles were reversed. Another reason why they’ll come to your aid is because it’s in their best interest to keep undesirables as far away from their home as possible.

Anyone who breaks and enters a home to steal resources is undesirable, but it takes real scum to steal the whole house!

What if you don’t know your neighbors or they aren’t willing to stick their necks out for your family? You may need to offer a portion of the supplies you recover in exchange for their assistance, or commit to remove the squatters yourself[4].

Personally, I think asking your neighbors for assistance is the safest plan, but you may find yourself in a situation that makes it impossible to get their assistance. If that’s the case, you should fall back on the other plans I’ve described.

A Few Words of Caution

Revenge

If you evicted the squatters and told them to move on, you must keep a constant vigil. They know where you live, how your property is set up, and how many people you have. It’ll be easy for them to return 1 or 2 days later and retake your home for themselves. It’s in their best interest to prevent you and your family from trying to retake your property again, which means they’ll probably kill you.

This is especially true if you’re alone, or didn’t have neighborly support when you confronted them.

Gossip

The squatters will tell their sad tale to anyone they see. They’ll describe your home and how “cruel” your family is. As they tell and retell the story, it will become even more exaggerated. People will eventually start believing that your family is selfish and is sitting on a mountain of food. They’ll come asking for hand-outs, and may think they’re serving justice if they attack your uncharitable family.

Heavy-Handed

It may seem like it’s in your best interest to eliminate the problem entirely, but this may have consequences too.

  1. Foremost, is the inconvenient fact that you’ll need to dispose of the bodies. Doing so will take time and energy away from moving in and setting up your own defenses.
  2. If your neighbors come to investigate, you’ll need to defend your actions.
  3. If an entire family is killed in the process, it may be seen as excessive. Technically, you did the right thing to reclaim your property and your neighbors won’t do anything against you. However, as things get progressively worse, those neighbors may start seeing you as a monster and may not come to your aid in the future.

Remember that your actions may have far-reaching consequences for your family later on.

Inside a Neighborhood

What if the neighborhood collectively decided it needed to loot your home and take everything of value? And then gave your home to some stranger to boot!

If you had to pass through security, chances are the authorities already know your home was looted and they allowed new tenants to move in. If the neighborhood leaders are halfway decent people, they would have recorded an inventory of supplies taken into the public record with the intention of returning the confiscated supplies, with interest, at some future date.

With this in mind, the leaders should have a plan for welcoming homeowners back into the community. The leadership should publicly announce your family’s return and apologize for looting your home. Once the current occupants are moved out of your home, the least they can do is return a portion of your supplies from the local food bank… regardless of how scarce food and survival equipment may be.

All of this needs to happen on the same day, or the next morning if the family arrived at night.

What if the neighborhood refuses to return your property?

I can think of a couple reasons why the neighborhood leadership may not want to return your home. One is legitimate and the other because of pettiness or greed. Both are shitty situations to be in and I’ll describe the possible scenarios which may challenge a family.

Legitimate Cause

The only legitimate reason for not returning your property is if it’s located at a strategic location or it’s essential to the community’s survival.

Maybe your home on the hill is in the center of the neighborhood, making it the perfect warehouse to store the food and supplied they stole from other abandoned buildings. Moving all that inventory to another location will require too much time and energy, and there’s a chance some of the supplies may get “lost” during the move. Once the move is complete, who knows if the owner of that building will return. They’d have to go through the process all over again.

It’s a terrible situation to be in, but it makes sense for the neighborhood to temporarily keep your home.

Illegitimate Reason

But what if that bitch of a neighbor, Karen[5], somehow worms her way into ruling the neighborhood? She’s always given your family grief over planting two apple trees in your yard. Now that society collapsed, she can’t believe her luck to be living next to such a valuable food source, and the disaster eliminated that bothersome family in the process. She can’t wait to pop open your house to see what other treasures it may hold.

Karen convinced the neighborhood to claim “eminent domain” over your home and physically rubbed her hands with delight as she watched her cronies inventory food, water, and other useful equipment. The trees can’t be relocated, so she moved one of her supporters into your home to maintain control over that resource.

But dammit! Your family’s inconvenient return threatens to undo all her hard work and planning. Karen doesn’t feel like she needs to return your property and wants to keep it… for the community.

What can you do?!

Whether the neighborhood claimed your home because of its strategic location, or someone’s pettiness and greed. The neighborhood leadership has all the power in this situation and your options are limited. If they truly need your home, they’re going to keep it. I envision a couple things may happen and I’ll use the previous scenarios as an example.

A New Hope

If the community offers to move your family into someone else’s home, you should provisionally accept the offer. Your home may not be strategically important forever, which means your family may be able to reclaim it later.

The Empress Strikes Back

A shrewd dictatorial leader will disarm your family upon entry, under the guise of a security procedure while they verify your identity and claim to the home. This will keep the family from killing Karen when she announces that you aren’t allowed to move back into your home. She’ll publicly claim to cherish you as a beloved neighbor, but the decision is ultimately out of her hands. They did an emergency review of the community’s supplies and there simply isn’t enough to support another family. Your family must leave and go somewhere else. Maybe things will improve and they can let you move back.

If this happens, you’ll have no choice but to move on.

Return of the Famil-i

People like Karen always make enemies, and your situation may be the last straw. The community should be appalled by Karen’s decision to deny a family their rightful home and banish them to certain death. Such an injustice could spark an uprising to remove her and her allies from power. If the community has a daily newsletter, the headline story may look like this:

Karen and several members of the neighborhood committee suffered various accidents overnight[6]. Nobody knows how or why this happened, but one local preacher suggests it was punishment from God for the sin of pride and not showing charity to thy neighbor. In other news, the new interim government reconsidered the decision to exile our neighbors, and would like to extend a warm welcome as they move back into their home.

If an uprising doesn’t spontaneously occur overnight, try moving into an abandoned building near the neighborhood and “squat” there until a regime-change happens. Maybe the new leadership will be more welcoming and reverse the decision.

***

Squatters are a nuisance in today’s society and will be a bigger problem if the SHTF. If you find yourself plagued by such locusts, evaluate the situation and evict or exterminate them. But do so in a way that ensures your safety and doesn’t cause you to be a pariah to the community.

It will be hard to hold desperate people at gunpoint and tell them to take a hike, but it’s not your problem what happens to them. You made the investments necessary to be prepared and these criminals shouldn’t benefit off that hard work.


[1] Trash: I have first-hand, second-hand, and gossip-pel experience of this sort of people. They’re usually drug addicts, people who’ve been in and out of jail, or ignorant “bumkins” who think it’s okay to do whatever you want because Officer John-Paul’s my cousin and will smooth everything out with the law.

Humanity may award a Nobel Prize for removing that part of the gene-pool.

[2] Ready for Anything: If these people were desperate enough to break into your home, they may be desperate enough to attack you to keep the property.

[3] 5-Minutes: 5 minutes may seem harsh, but these moochers have been stealing your valuable resources. They may have already lowered your chances of survival. Who cares if they leave some of their belongings, consider it rent.

[4] Unneighborly Neighbors: If your neighbors refuse to help you reclaim your property, you should probably keep them at arms-length. Anyone who allows such a crime to happen next to their home should not be trusted.

[5] Karen: Our society has turned this name into a pejorative term for entitled or demanding women. I once knew a loving and caring woman named, Karen, and feel a little guilty for using the term in this article. However, it is a common and relatable term which best describes the loathsome neighbor I’m envisioning.

I apologize in advance to anyone who may be so named.

[6] Accident: Remember readers! I do not condone or advise the use of violence or breaking any just law, nor do I of vigilante justice.

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