Inside Atlanta’s Squatter Problem: How it’s destroying Wall Street Landlords


Atlanta Homeowners: If you wanna Squat go workout at the gym, but stay outta of my house!

Did you know that Atlanta is often considered the hub for squatted homes? In fact, there are approximately 1,200 of these homes in the city, giving Atlanta the highest number of institutional landlords in the entire United States. That’s a staggering statistic, and one that has raised many concerns for both property owners and renters alike. But how did this situation come to be?

It turns out that the problem of squatting in Atlanta has reached such an extreme that some property owners are now offering squatters money to leave their property. And while this may seem like a desperate and unconventional solution, it highlights just how serious the issue has become. To make matters worse, many property managers are now hesitant to check vacant homes by themselves, further complicating the situation.

This poses a significant challenge for Wall Street landlords, who have heavily invested in Atlanta’s rental market. They are faced with numerous vacant homes, making them vulnerable to squatters and resulting in financial losses. In response, these landlords have taken various measures to combat the problem. Some have increased security measures and put stricter screening processes in place, while others are turning to legal action to remove squatters from their properties.

But this problem goes beyond the financial impact on property owners. It also affects the tenants living in these squatted homes. They may face eviction from their homes due to the actions of squatters, causing stress and uncertainty for their future housing. And with the current housing crisis, where affordable rental options are scarce, these evicted tenants may struggle to find a new place to live.



– High home foreclosures: One of the primary causes contributing to the Atlanta squatter problem is the significant number of home foreclosures. Due to financial hardships, homeowners struggle to maintain their mortgage payments, resulting in the bank assuming ownership of the property. Unfortunately, many homeowners voluntarily vacate the premises, effectively leaving them unattended and susceptible to unauthorized occupation by squatters. These individuals unlawfully occupy these vacant properties, often for extended periods, exacerbating the issue.

– Empty and inviting properties: The allure for squatters to target abandoned houses is undeniable. Once a residential property is left unoccupied, it swiftly becomes an attractive option for those seeking to establish residency without legal authorization. Consequently, these vacant properties frequently fall victim to squatters who exploit the situation and unlawfully occupy them for prolonged durations.


– Property damage: Squatters frequently cause significant damage to the properties they occupy, leaving behind extensive repairs that landlords must undertake, leading to hefty repair bills.

– Unpaid rent and bills: Squatters do not pay rent or utilities while occupying a property, resulting in financial stress for property owners who must bear the burden of these unpaid expenses.

– Difficult eviction process: Evicting squatters can be an arduous and complicated process, often involving legal procedures and significant time investment. This puts additional pressure on landlords, who may incur legal fees and face challenges in removing squatters from their properties.

– Decreased property value: The presence of squatters in a neighborhood or property can significantly lower property values. The potential deterrence of potential renters or buyers due to squatting activity can lead to a decline in property value, negatively impacting landlords’ financial interests.

Effects beyond property owners:

– Poor living conditions: Squatters often live in substandard conditions, lacking basic amenities such as access to clean water, electricity, and adequate waste management. These individuals face significant hardship due to their unauthorized living arrangements.

– Health risks: Living without essential amenities increases the health risks for squatters and the surrounding community. The lack of proper sanitation and access to clean water can lead to various health hazards, posing a threat to both squatters and nearby residents.

– Burden on public services: Addressing squatting-related issues places a strain on public services such as fire departments and law enforcement. These services must allocate resources to handle squatter-related incidents, diverting their attention and potentially impacting their overall effectiveness in dealing with other emergencies.

Combatting the Problem: Strategies Used by Homeowners

– Enhanced security measures: Property owners are implementing various security measures to safeguard their properties. This includes installing fencing, gates, and security camera systems to deter potential squatters and enhance overall security.

– Private security firms: Some homeowners opt to hire private security personnel to provide additional protection for their properties. These trained professionals can help prevent unauthorized entry and quickly respond to any trespassing incidents.

– Cash incentives: To avoid lengthy legal battles, some property owners offer cash incentives to squatters, encouraging them to voluntarily vacate the premises by a specific deadline. This approach, known as “cash-for-keys,” offers an alternative solution to settle disputes outside of the courtroom.

Community Support: Organizations Assisting Those Facing Eviction

– The Housing Justice League: This dedicated advocacy group connects residents facing eviction with legal services and community support. By empowering individuals with the necessary resources and assistance, they aim to combat eviction and provide a safety net for those in need.

– Temporary shelter and alternative housing: Several organizations offer temporary shelter and alternative housing options for individuals who have been evicted or displaced during challenging times. These initiatives provide a safe haven for those in need, helping them navigate through difficult situations and regain stability in their lives.

By adopting these practices and receiving support from such organizations, homeowners and occupants can work towards resolving squatting issues and ensuring the well-being of those affected.


The squatter problem in Atlanta is a complex issue that affects everyone involved, from property owners to tenants to public services. While there is no single solution to the problem, there are various strategies that landlords can implement to protect their investment and assist squatters in finding alternative housing.

One approach is to enhance security measures, such as installing alarm systems or reinforcing doors and windows, to deter potential squatters. Landlords could also consider offering cash-for-keys incentives, whereby squatters are compensated for vacating the property voluntarily. Additionally, seeking support from community organizations that specialize in housing assistance can be beneficial in addressing the issue.

These organizations can provide resources and guidance to both landlords and squatters, facilitating their transition to more suitable housing arrangements. Concurrently, advocates for affordable housing should focus on tackling the underlying causes of squatting, such as financial insecurity and limited housing options. By working together and implementing a comprehensive approach, all parties involved can contribute to the creation of a more equitable and sustainable housing market in Atlanta.

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