Illegal squatters occupy at least 1,200 homes in Atlanta

An estimated 72,000 homes in the area are owned and rented out by large corporations. 

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Over the past year, the number of reports of people squatting in vacant homes in the Atlanta area has skyrocketed, with some estimates claiming as many as 1,200 properties have now been taken over by illegal occupants.

Evicting the uninvited guests via the proper legal channels is a long and arduous process, and with a backlog in the court system, a number of homeowners have taken measures to persuade people to leave themselves.

As the New York Post reports, while some illegal occupants are simply poor families looking to put a roof over their heads, others have had additional criminal intentions.

In October, for example, a quartet of squatters in South Fulton were arrested after neighbors discovered they had opened up a strip club on the property they'd taken over. Jeremy Wheat and Kelvin Hall, along with their friends DeAnthony Maddox and Tarahsjay Forde, occupied a 4,000 square foot home with five bedrooms and three bathrooms on Wewatta Street, and quickly transformed it into an illegal business.

The group reportedly hosted loud parties and car races on the residential street, to the ire of their neighbors.

That same month, FOX5 reports, a homeowner in Tucker who had been unable to remove squatters from his property witnessed the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force apprehend one of the men, finding out later that he had been a convicted sex offender and was wanted by authorities.

According to Bloomberg, the Georgia capital is the largest market in the nation for institutional landlords, with an estimated 72,000 homes in the area being owned and rented out by large corporations. 

Executives from such enterprises have expressed concern that the squatting epidemic will impact the safety of neighborhoods in which they've invested, and eventually hurt their bottom line.

Regular homeowners, however, have been hit the hardest. With law enforcement often unable to do much, they're often left with no choice but to abide by the squatters' demands and pay up to get them to leave.
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