Created By: MaxWestJuly 1, 2013 Last Edited By: MaxWestNovember 16, 2013

House Squatting

Character lives unlawfully in domicile belonging to someone else

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Trope
So you're living in a fancy house. You've got plenty of rooms, a luxurious kitchen with a well-stocked pantry, a huge garden and other neat amenities like a swimming pool and home theater. There's just one little problem...this house doesn't legally belong to you.

Some houses remain unoccupied for long periods of time. Maybe the owners live in another state or even another country, maybe it's on the market for rent but hasn't found any takers, or perhaps the owner is constantly taking long-term trips. Either way, a drifter, a swindler, or someone just looking for a place to stay may decide to take up residence in said empty house.

Truth In Television but one should do this at their own risk. In the USA and many other countries, this is considered squatting and may also overlap with other criminal charges like trespassing or burglary.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Shouko of the Twilight is a short manga involving a vampire that moves into people's houses while they are away (thus averting Vampire Invitation), the plot kicks off when Shouko's parents abruptly decide to leave her at home while they are abroad. There is no other empty house scheduled to open up for several weeks, so the vampire has to convince Shouko not to kick him out.

Comic Books
  • The aftermath of Batman No Mans Land storyline dealt with this happening en masse in Gotham, where the Gothamites that stayed behind during the No Man's Land had moved into the better houses and the returning Gothamites who'd fled had to evict them - including one stay behind who was tried for murder when he shot a returnee whom he'd mistaken for a home invader.

Film
  • The Laurel And Hardy "Another Fine Mess" (1930) involves Stan and Oliver running into a mansion to hide from the police. The owner of the mansion, Colonel Buckshot, has just left on a six-month hunting trip and his servants also leave on a short vacation themselves. Stan and Olly decide to stay in the mansion for awhile, but Hilarity Ensues when a wealthy couple shows up interested in renting the mansion. This was a remake of an earlier silent Laurel and Hardy short from 1927 titled "Duck Soup"; the plot was nearly identical.
  • Played With in Cocoon as many of the senior citizens in the film sneak over to a nearby house for rent - but not to live there, just to use the swimming pool.
  • In the Steve Martin/Goldie Hawn movie Housesitter con artist Gwen moves into the house Newton made for his fiance... who jilted him, so he never goes there. She also manages to convince the neighborhood she's Newton's wife.
  • Following features this as part of the big twist ending. The apartment that the burglar Cobb claims as his own, isn't—he's just squatting there while the real owner is on holiday. (When not at that apartment, he uses a condemned apartment complex, or stays at his girlfriend's place.) Not keeping any permanent residence of his own is just part of Cobb's long-term strategy to leave no trace of his existence.
  • Emelius Browne in the Bedknobs And Broomsticks movie.

Literature
  • In Mrs Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, the titular rats take shelter in a luxurious mansion called the Boniface Estate not long after escaping from NIMH. The owners of the mansion are wealthy newlyweds who went on a trip around the world, leaving the estate unoccupied. The rats take caution not to be discovered by the groundskeeper who maintains the lawn and garden; they hide during his visits, clean the house and haul their garbage far off into the nearby woods to avoid detection.
  • The contract killer in the Dean Koontz novel The Good Guy has no home of his own, breaking into and living in other people's homes on a day to day basis.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Homer pretends to be rich in order to impress the director of "Springfield Up" (a parody of Up) he moves his family into Mr. Burns' mansion while Burns is out of town.
    • In "You Only Move Twice" the Simpsons move away to another town. When they come back they find that Otto has moved into their empty house along with his girlfriend.

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • July 1, 2013
    TooBah
    In the Steve Martin/Goldie Hawn movie Housesitter (which really needs a work page, BTW), con artist Gwen moves into the house Newton made for his fiance... who jilted him, so he never goes there. She also manages to convince the neighborhood she's Newton's wife.
  • July 1, 2013
    Exxolon
    The contract killer in the Dean Koontz novel The Good Guy has no home of his own, breaking into and living in other people's homes on a day to day basis.
  • July 1, 2013
    MetaFour
    • Following features this as part of the big twist ending. The apartment that the burglar Cobb claims as his own, isn't--he's just squatting there while the real owner is on holiday. (When not at that apartment, he uses a condemned apartment complex, or stays at his girlfriend's place.) Not keeping any permanent residence of his own is just part of Cobb's long-term strategy to leave no trace of his existence.
  • July 2, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    "The Home That Isn't Yours" is too much like a line of dialogue.

    How about Squatting? It says everything about the trope, and is the actual term for living in a house unlawfully.
  • July 2, 2013
    m8e
  • July 2, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    Emelius Browne in the Bedknobs And Broomsticks movie.
  • July 2, 2013
    SKJAM
    • Shouko of the Twilight is a short manga involving a vampire that moves into people's houses while they are away (thus averting Vampire Invitation), the plot kicks off when Shouko's parents abruptly decide to leave her at home while they are abroad. There is no other empty house scheduled to open up for several weeks, so the vampire has to convince Shouko not to kick him out.
  • July 2, 2013
    MaxWest
    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    Maxwellsilver has a point - that current title is the best I could do. The name needs to better...but I don't think just "Squatting" will suffice. If anyone can think up something more creative, share it with us.
  • July 2, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
  • July 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • The Simpsons:
      • When Homer pretends to be rich in order to impress the director of "Springfield Up" (a parody of Up) he moves his family into Mr. Burns' mansion while Burns is out of town.
      • In "You Only Move Twice" the Simpsons move away to another town. When they come back they find that Otto has moved into their empty house along with his girlfriend.
  • November 16, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    The aftermath of Batman No Mans Land storyline dealt with this happening en masse in Gotham, where the Gothamites that stayed behind during the No Man's Land had moved into the better houses and the returning Gothamites who'd fled had to evict them. Including one stay behind who was tried for murder when he shot a returnee whom he'd mistaken for a home invader.
  • November 16, 2013
    DAN004
    Would building a building in someone else's land count?

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