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House Squatting

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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 overlap with other criminal charges like trespassing or burglary. You also risk injurious or lethal consequences, especially in areas with castle doctrine. On the other hand, in some countries, someone who has lived in an abandoned house long enough with no demands to leave can claim legal ownership.

Compare Non-Residential Residence for "squatting" in something that isn't a house at all, and The Thing That Would Not Leave for guests who outstay their welcome.



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    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 Man's Land storyline deals with this happening en masse in Gotham, where the Gothamites that stayed behind during the No Man's Land have moved into the better houses and the returning Gothamites who'd fled have to evict them — including one stay-behind who is tried for murder when he shoots a returnee whom he'd mistaken for a home invader.
  • The third series of Runaways has the team break into Chase's parents' old summer house in Malibu. In order to fend off any nosy neighbors, they have Xavin pose as their wealthy single dad.

  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin briefly stays in his uncle Rob's townhouse, which is vacant as he's on vacation in Paris. It's mid-renovation, but that only works in Kevin's favor.
  • The Laurel and Hardy film "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 lives in a house abandoned because of an un-detonated bomb in the front yard. Brown made himself at home and discovered books on magic in the library, which he used for his correspondence course.
  • In Revenge of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau is declared dead in an assassination attempt (which actually killed the hijacker who had just stolen his car). Upon returning home the next day, he finds that his manservant has taken over his apartment and turned it into a brothel.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Last Man on Earth has Phil and the other survivors move from one abandoned house to another, leaving as soon as supplies run out or something else drives them away.
  • In the first season of The O.C., Seth and Marissa try to hide Ryan in one of Kirsten's under construction mega-home housing developments to keep him from being sent back to juvenile detention. They light his temporary quarters with open-flame candles resulting in the home he's squatting in burning to the ground.
  • In The Riches, the Malloy family does this as part of their Dead Person Impersonation of the Riches. The original Mr. and Mrs. Rich die in a car crash while moving to a new house in a community that they'd never visited, so the Malloys steal their identities and and move in in their place, with their new neighbours none the wiser.
  • The Winchesters are forced to do this in season 7 of Supernatural due to being hunted both by the FBI and by Nigh Invulnerable, body-snatching Leviathans. This leaves them unable to stay in motels or anywhere they may come in contact with the public.

  • 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.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the wizard Horace Slughorn is fond of vacationing by squatting in Muggles' houses while they're on holiday. With a Perception Filter and a few charms on the neighbours, the biggest hassle is moving in the piano.

    Video Games 
  • In Constructor, the hippie from the commune that you can build can squat enemy houses. Sometimes if you try to throw some tenants out, they'll become squatters.
  • The Division: While exploring abandoned factories, office buildings, and apartment buildings, there is visible evidence everywhere of people squatting before either finally succumbing to the outbreak, being murdered by roving gangs or moving on to the government-run quarantine zones.
  • In Dragon Age II, Fenris is an escaped slave who searches for his former owner to kill him. In Act 1, you can help him assault a mansion in Kirkwall belonging to his ex-owner, hoping that the latter would be there, but it turns out he has long moved out. Upon slaughtering the mansion guards, Fenris decides to stay there for the time being. In later Acts, Varric and Aveline have to pull a number of strings to prevent the City Guard from evicting Fenris from the mansion for unlawfully occupying it (especially since he doesn't exactly take care of the place).
  • The Last of Us: Civilization has collapsed and everything outside of the government-run quarantine zones has fallen into abandon. Anyone travelling outside of the approved zones will have to find their own shelter which mostly consists of abandoned houses, warehouses, and apartment buildings. It's usually safe to squat for a night before moving on.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball had an episode titled "The Nobody", where it is revealed that Rob is hiding in the Watterson's hidden basement.
  • 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, simply abandoning their house because no one wants to buy it. When they come back they find that Otto has moved into their empty house along with his girlfriend.
    • In "The Ziff Who Came To Dinner", the family discovers that Artie Ziff (the multi-millionaire Stalker with a Crush obsessed with Marge) had been squatting in their home for some time now, living in the attic and surviving by eating mold. Turns out that the investments that made him rich had all burst and he needed a place to dodge the IRS.

    Real Life 


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