How to avoid squatters

I’m looking into covering our bases on making sure squatters never become an issue. We haven’t had any trouble but a friend (not renting through Airbnb) is having trouble. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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It all depends on the landlord-tenant laws in your jurisdiction.


We are located in crawford county pa.

I do not allowing stays longer than 14 days, I do not accept reservation changes. I pay lodging tax, if I ever were to have an issue I would call the police for help and let them know I pay the same taxes as hotels and it is not a tenant issue.



Provide plenty of chairs?


Don’t allow stays longer than 27 days.

Airbnb can be a poor platform for avoiding squatters. Generally, this is only a problem if you do long-term stays (typically, anything over 27-30 days) because you can’t do credit or background checks on Airbnb guests.

The first step is to learn the tenancy and eviction laws in your area.

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We’d need to know a little more, I think, in order to offer any advice other than that given above. Why hasn’t your friend just thrown them out?

This topic is making me laugh, literally.

How it’s dealt with here depends very much on where you are, what the initial agreement of occupation (if any) is, and how pro active the occupants of surrounding properties are in respect of squatters.

So, to take the example of an STR guest claiming occupancy, well he/she might claim it, but here it doesn’t matter a feck.

As an STR guest, your details have been entered (by the host) on the Policia database as an STR guest (with check in and check out dates), therefore ipso facto, you cannot then decide you aren’t leaving and claim “squatters rights”.

If we had that scenario, irrespective of the “days” in situ, I would have two big hairy arsed Spanish polis assisting me to eject said persons from our property, although if my OH had a head of steam up, the policia would not be needed.

That said, there is an issue here (Spain in general) with squatters. We have a squat at the bottom of our street, and so far nobody has bothered much because they haven’t caused any issues.

If they did cause problems, then the local folks (i.e. me, my neighbour across the road and another neighbour just down the road) would take action. They’d last around five minutes.

My two cents worth…


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We are landlords in PA and also do STR. A big thing is to max out your stays well under 30 days. Ours is 14 day max.

If someone wants to do “a month or longer” we only do it Direct - never ever via Air, vrbo, etc. They are a tenant and you are a landlord. Iron-clad contract and big deposits. Cut and dried.

Regardless, become very familiar with PA state tenant landlord laws. Even if you are local, get cameras. I strongly recommend doing check-ins in person. It helps because we are in the hospitality business and want to show guests our friendly side. It also gives you leverage to turn away lying guests who book for 2 and show up with 10, etc.

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Thank you jefferson…I will make sure to do some research. Currently our maximum stay is 2 weeks and we check reviews and make sure guests are verified. The homeowner (my co-host) voiced some concerns so I’m doing what I can to get them info. They live in Florida and the property is in PA about 15 minutes from where I live. I had read something about a contact but I figured the clear check-in and check-out dates should cover us. I work daily at the barn connected to the rental so I have an idea of what is going on, but I also try to give the guests their privacy.

Oh - another thing that is useful. Ask for all guests: full name, ages and current address (as required by insurance). So far, all guests have been absolutely fine with answering and never pushed back.

IMO, it is irrelevant whether your STR insurance policy or town actually requires it. It is our business policy to ask, and we would not host a guest that refused to provide. Any motel or hotel will ask for ID and often make a copy. The OTA’s (Air, vrbo, etc) have no right to ask for your policy info. It’s none of their damn business.

IMO, it helps helps to identify a possible red flag guest. If we had one who got antsy about it or refused, then we would not do the booking.

Oh - also we set a high security deposit with Air. It’s basically BS, as they do not hold anything. If a guest refuses to pay Air often screws the host over. BUT - having it set high can’t hurt and might help avoid some potentially bad guests. They may look elsewhere, especially if you have outside cameras (highly recommended).

Good luck!

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Are they merely squatting or are they tenants that are not paying rent anymore and taking advantage of the eviction restrictions?

It won’t matter until evictions are allowed again. Even landlords with leases are at risk right now.

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Well yes and no… I would consider a longer term rental, say 3 months I would require full payment in advance plus a large deposit, from someone who has a home somewhere else. I think that would minimize my risks. If you can afford that, and you have a home to go back to the likelihood of squatting is low. I have had inquiries for summer rentals and they have not happened, because I barely discount and I want it all up front:)


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It is a fluid situation. New things are about to happen but things are also different by state:

This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.

These persons may also still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment.

Airbnb’s so-called “verification”, just so you know, means diddley-squat. And I’ve read plenty of posts from hosts who had guests with 5* reviews who turned out to be just horrible guests. Hosts have had guests steal from them, and other totally unacceptable behavior, and even though the host reported the guest to Airbnb, with proof of their disrespect, weeks later that guest’s profile is still up and they are free to book other places.
You have to rely on your own vetting process, don’t necessarily trust Airbnb.

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The owner did a great job with the ascetic. Really love the indoor pool, sauna, wood floor accents, etc. Also that bathroom! Sweet.

The inside is far more interesting than a first glance at the top photo - I would highlight something else to catch the eye of a prospective guest and do a lot of cross marketing, especially to Pittsburgh, etc.

This is the crux of the matter, as in the guest is only “lodging”. Which essentially means for the vast majority of Airbnb hosts squatting isn’t really an issue. I know Airbnb is pushing longer stays, mainly because it’s desperate for revenue, but as is often mentioned on here, Airbnb is not the ideal intermediary for stays over twenty eight days or so.

Out of curiosity, I did a couple of Google searches to see if it really is an issue. Ok, there is the famous Palm Springs case, but not much more directly relating to Airbnb. I suppose if someone wants to spend more than the couple of minutes I spent they may come up with some, but it does appear that, as I said, squatting isn’t as prevalent as some folks think.

If the worst came to the worst with us, I’d call on these guys :wink:

They’ve had a bit of press coverage here recently, mainly due to the issues we have in Spain with “organised” squatting, mainly in the Madrid area.


You do have some limits on that in California, it helps that it’s furnished but I don’t think you can take 3 months in advance and a large deposit. That stuff changes fairly frequently in CA, but you might want to check your limits (I was a tenant in CA for a long time ,)

In my current state, I can only take first month’s rent and 2-months total deposit. I’m allowed no other fees (keys, pets, etc) beyond the 2-months amount. If my units weren’t furnished, then I’d only be allowed 1-month total.

That’s what we’ve done. We scoop up students who go to a very expensive university whose parents also signed as guarantors. Their university has such a student code that we can actually report them to the school if they don’t pay rent or if they cause any trouble, so they are the sweetest deal for us (and have been our best tenants).

We’ve also taken local MDs that want to live away from home because of Covid and that’s been good. And we took an older couple who were looking for a house to buy. They paid their rent timely but were friggin dirty.

I think that having furnished rentals will generally attract people who have other homes, otherwise they’d be bringing their own furniture. But I have friends who are ‘regular’ landlords that are choosing to leave apartments empty until things settle down because they would be obligated to pay the very expensive utilities for tenants who couldn’t pay rent, a sort of double-whammy.

Yes, but if your state is less restrictive than the bizarro CDC ban, then Fed rules will apply. Nonetheless, I also believe that landlords will find other reasons to evict people who can’t or won’t pay rent. That will surely prove easier than trying to collect unpaid rent, fees, etc at a later date from someone who is already sinking.

I agree with this, I believe it’s only in certain locals. Where I live, they’d have to take possession for 10 years and have no complaints during that 10 years to have squatter’s rights. I doubt our area attracts many wannabe-squatters :wink:

Yes, if I were advertising for a lease I would worry about it. I have been approached about longer term stays and that’s how I answered. Pretty much I do not want long term so it is not an issue.

When we first bought this cabin I was approached by a couple who were building a house and wanted a furnished all inclusive lease. They were there 13 months, paid in advance over 20K . They paid for my new roof and the furniture.