Handyman who stood up to squatters has a suggestion: Make it an act of terror, call in National Guard

A handyman believes he’s found the solution to the squatting epidemic in Atlanta where 1,200 homes have been commandeered by random vagrants.

Flash Shelton, the founder of the United Handyman Association and SquatterHunters.com, told Fox News in an interview that the laws need to be changed so that squatting is categorized as a “terrorist act.”

“If we were to criminalize it, that would enable us to send in the National Guard to sweep that whole neighborhood and get those 1,200 houses clear,” he said. “That’s what needs to be done. If we don’t stop it, it’s going to get worse.”

As previously reported, Atlanta is facing a squatting crisis that’s so bad that many “owners offer intruders money to leave and many property managers won’t check on suspect houses alone,” according to Bloomberg.

“My advice to the Atlanta property owners would be the same as they would to any property owner,” Shelton added. “First of all, know your laws, know your rights and think safely. This is your house, I understand that, but this is property, and it’s not worth your life.”

Part of the problem is that homeowners can easily wind up arrested while trying to evict squatters because of how screwed up the laws happen to be. That’s why Shelton recommends that homeowners always contact the police first and foremost.

“As soon as law enforcement says there’s nothing we can do, then I would say reach out to me or someone like me because there are alternatives besides spending a year in civil court,” he said.

Shelton first got into the business of removing squatters when two women reportedly took over his mom’s California home last year after she’d put it up for sale following her husband’s death.

“After local law enforcement couldn’t help, Shelton spent days dissecting laws around squatters’ rights,” Fox News notes. “He managed to get rid of the women within a day by drafting a lease agreement with his mother designating him the legal resident of the home, then took over the house when the women stepped out one day and barred them from re-entering.”

“Now he uses his experience to provide squatter removal services for others and has successfully helped several landlords in California reclaim their homes,” according to Fox News.

“I think it’s just something that is coming to light … and I believe that it’s going to get worse,” he said. “Squatters’ rights were never intended to allow the takeover of residential maintained properties. So until we make it criminal, it’s just going to keep happening, and people are going to be afraid to rent out or buy.”

As noted earlier, the crisis in Atlanta is bad.

One resident told the New York Post they’re afraid to simply go on vacation because squatters might take over.

“Is this even America anymore? We are homeowners and we can’t even do anything about trespassers?” the resident said.

Thankfully, there have been some slivers of hope, such as when four particularly obnoxious criminal squatters were finally arrested in October, thus putting an end to a nightmare for the home’s neighbors.

“Neighbors [said] the people who lived in the home kept them up at all times of the night, with parties and other non-neighborly activities. … People who live in the Thaxton Reserve community said they’ve lost plenty of sleep the last four months because of the nightmare neighbors at that home,” local station WSB reported at the time.

“A lot of partying. They had an illegal strip club on the weekends,” one neighbor anonymously said.

The squatters and their party guests also raced in the streets, left piles of trash everywhere, smoked marijuana, and evidently brought horses to the home.

“They would get live horses. One day they had live horses,” a neighbor said.

Neighbors complained to the authorities for months, but nothing happened til mid-October when a SWAT team finally took down the squatters.

“There’s violence and weapons and not to mention the fact that these houses are turning into drug houses,” Shelton said of the Atlanta crisis. “They are bringing that element into these neighborhoods that may not know how to adapt or handle a situation like that.”

“There are safety risks for children, for elderly, for anybody,” he added.

He further noted that the crisis in Atlanta is particularly unique because of just how widespread the squatting has become.

“Typically, when someone reaches out to me, it’s an individual, one house here or one house there,” he said. “This is like a whole town being overrun.”

Vivek Saxena

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