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Published on April 02, 2024
Squatters' Claims Disputed in Texas and Ohio Amid National Focus on Property RightsSource: Unsplash/ Cristina Gottardi

The concept of squatters' rights has been thrust into the national spotlight with a string of notable incidents, with cases in Texas and Ohio painting a stark picture of the legal battles homeowners face regarding uninvited occupants on their properties.

In San Antonio, Abram Mendez faced the unsettling reality of a squatter entrenched in his new fixer-upper home, as reported by FOX San Antonio. Initially agreeing to a trade of temporary shelter for tile work, Mendez and his wife Yudith found themselves locked in a confrontation with their former acquaintance, refusing to leave and erroneously claiming squatters' rights — a claim that real estate attorneys have deemed baseless under Texas law. "He's not earning any legal rights or legal title to the property in that circumstance," attorney Christopher Hugg explained to FOX San Antonio, refuting the squatter's assertion.

Yet, Texas is not alone in its squatter predicaments. Arrested in Ohio for failing to comply with release conditions set by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Venezuelan migrant Leonel Moreno gained notoriety for a TikTok video where he urged others to occupy U.S. homes and claim them as squatters. According to News 4 San Antonio, Moreno has been detained pending further immigration proceedings after his arrest by officers from the Enforcement and Removal Operations.

Squatters' rights, though varied by state, typically involve a prolonged and uninterrupted stay on a property, with certain legal conditions that must be met to claim "adverse possession." In light of such cases, some states, including Georgia, have been spurred to legislate against the practice of squatting. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida notably took measures to streamline law enforcement's ability to address the issue, allowing police to act at the homeowner's request.

These incidents exemplify the complexities of property rights and the ongoing debate over squatting in America. As homeowners like the Mendezes pursue legal action, the controversy surrounding these cases elicits responses at both the state and national level, reminding property owners to remain vigilant about their real estate holdings and underscoring the necessity of legal understanding in the face of occupation without permission.