Squatters target empty homes
A Perth real estate agent is warning homeowners to ensure their properties are secured if left vacant while waiting for sale or rent.
While at a house in Como, Adrian Ballard said there was a risk of squatters targeting empty houses and seeking shelter there, or in the yards or sheds of unoccupied homes.
“In extreme cases the squatters identify when the property is most likely to be completely unattended, and if security is not adequate, they break in and occupy the house,” he said.
“In lesser cases, where the house has good security, and more often than not has an active alarm system, they will settle for camping out in sheds, granny flats or covered outdoor entertaining areas.
“Either way, the end result is often damage which ultimately proves costly, stressful and very inconvenient to the homeowners.
“It affects the ability to sell or rent out the house.”
Mr Ballard said a homeowner could reduce their chances of becoming a victim by ensuring their property was secure before it was sold.
“Where a house is going to be brought to market vacant, it certainly pays to take a moment to review security measures,” he said.
“For the most part, it means going back to basics and making it hard to break in.”
He said property managers would generally check on a property between home opens and viewings to ensure it was kept safe.
WA Police said basic home security should be at the forefront of people’s minds if they had a vacant home on the market.
Snr Sgt Glenn Swannell said no one should put themselves at risk if they were aware that people were in their home.
“Don’t enter the property if there is any threat; call police on 131 444 and they will come and remove any trespassers,” he said.
He said a person entering someone’s property to seek shelter was not committing a burglary, but rather a trespass, and could also be charged with criminal damage if appropriate.
“The offence is a burglary only if the person breaks into a property with the intention of committing a crime,” he said.
“If someone breaks in to seek shelter, they are trespassing and can be charged with that offence.”
Jones Ballard director Adrian Ballard warns sellers to maintain security on their properties.