Houston/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on May 07, 2024
Houston Grapples with Squatting Surge, Residents and Officials Push for Stronger Property ProtectionsSource: Unsplash/ Gene Gallin

Residents across Houston are voicing their concerns as waves of squatters are taking over vacant homes, leading to extended legal battles and frustration among homeowners and communities. One striking example is the dilapidated house at 6322 Costa Mesa, which instills fear in neighbors due to its continual occupation by squatters, as reported by KTRK. "Waves of squatters coming in, teenagers, it brings fear upon you," Willie Robinson, a local resident, expressed her distress in an ACTION 13 interview.

In Texas, even when individuals overstay their welcome without any legal claim, the procedure to remove them is choked with red tape. Instances have varied, from former legitimate tenants clinging to properties after their leases expired, to families with children claiming false entitlement to live in homes up for sale. In one such case, a squatter continued her residence while her eviction case lumbered through the court system, culminating in the judge's decision to order an eviction.

Meanwhile, officials in Southeast Houston are starting to tackle the issue head-on. In one incident highlighted by FOX 26, a home on Hinds Street became a squatting site after the owner's death, exacerbated by a lack of clear will or property documentation. The Harris County Precinct 2 Constable's office, driven by community complaints of illegal activity and property misuse, was eventually able to evict the squatters after establishing a legitimate complainant party and wading through months of procedural requirements.

"The Constable's office showed up at my door," Jennifer Hebert, the late homeowner's daughter, recalled her surprise when informed by officials about the squatters, despite believing her brother was living on the property, in a statement obtained by FOX 26. Constable Jerry Garcia emphasized the growing problem, advising residents to prepare proper estate documentation to prevent such difficulties. Losing sight of critical paperwork often leaves properties vulnerable and complicates enforcement actions.

Community efforts to address these issues are stepping up with the introduction of Wills Clinics to help residents secure their property for future generations. With the Texas Legislature's next session commencing in January 2025, many like Willie Robinson are calling for updated laws to protect property owners, as she told KTRK, "We should." Until then, residents and officials continue the hard-fought battles to reclaim homes from unwelcome occupants.

Houston-Real Estate & Development