Fear of Squatters in Atlanta Dissuade People from Leaving Their Homes

When the law breaks down, it breaks down on many levels, leaving many groups of victims. Some so-called “homeless” people are clever dedicated predatory criminals. Neighborhoods in Atlanta have “been beset by squatting amid figures suggesting that over 1,000 properties are being lived in illegally.”

Matt Urbanski, who manages a local home-cleaning firm, told Bloomberg, “I’d be terrified in Atlanta to lease out one of my properties.” The squatters are brazen, flaunting their criminality, as seen in the reported example of squatters “even allegedly opened an illegal strip club on a property out of a suburban home they had taken over, with weekend parties.”

Dealing with these squatters, the risk of violence is pervasive. According to Simon Frost, chief executive of landlord Tiber Capital Group, “the area has seen incidents of unlawful occupants brandishing weapons and even threatening neighbors.” Urbanski’s company empties properties for corporate landlords, and in some cases must take out squatters’ possessions.

As reported by the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) trade group, “a staggering 1,200 homes have been squatted in Georgia‘s capital.” Reporting asserts that “half of nation’s renters are struggling with rent, and in Georgia it’s not much different.”

The eviction process for removing a squatter is cumbersome, time consuming and favors the squatter. “Evicting squatters in the city is said to be difficult, as it involves negotiating in court and stretches law enforcement resources.”

The internet makes squatting and expropriating properties easier. “Properties being listed online and virtual real estate agents are also believed to make it easy for would-be squatters to find vacant spots to target.”

The strip club-horses situation occurred in South Fulton and was brazen. “DeAnthony Maddox, Jeremy Wheat, Kelvin Hall, and Tarahsjay Forde occupied a 4,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home with three bathrooms and transformed it into a hub of unlawful activities and brought horses to the premises.” As disclosed in a police report, a “SWAT team eventually cleared out the house and recovered two stolen cars from the property, as well as a stolen weapon and stolen credit cards.”

National Rental Home Council CEO David Howard said incidents of illegal trespassing in the city are “disproportionately higher than comparable markets across the country.” Howard told MailOnline the “volume and consistency of the practice in terms of how these incidents happen are clearly indicative of some kind of organized criminal effort.” One neighbor said they are reluctant to go on vacation over fears squatters will enter their property while they’re away.

D & B Staff

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