Pennsylvania Homeowner Forced to Pay Squatter $1,200 to Leave Residence

8 January 2024

A Pennsylvania man shares his frustrating experience with a squatter, shedding light on the challenges faced by property owners in dealing with such situations.

Chris Harte, a homeowner in Pennsylvania, found himself in a distressing situation when he discovered that his investment property in northwest Philadelphia had been taken over by squatters. Despite his attempts to involve the police and seek legal recourse, Harte was left with no choice but to pay the squatter $1,200 to vacate the premises. His story highlights the difficulties faced by property owners in dealing with squatters and the lack of support from law enforcement and the legal system.

1: The Unsettling Discovery

In early December, Harte’s real estate agent received a call from a neighbor, informing her that people had moved into the property and removed the “for sale” sign. Harte immediately contacted the police, who informed him that since the squatters claimed to be renting the house, there was nothing they could do. Frustrated, Harte realized that he would have to navigate the complex legal process to regain possession of his property.

2: Frustrating Encounters with Law Enforcement and the Legal System

Despite providing all the necessary paperwork to prove his ownership, Harte was informed by the police that the squatters had acquired legal rights to the property as soon as they moved in. The police suggested filing a landlord-tenant complaint, which would require Harte to pay a significant fee and endure a lengthy eviction process. Harte’s encounters with the court staff further exacerbated his frustration, as they informed him that an eviction could take over a year to complete.

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3: The Costly Resolution

After days of stress and uncertainty, the squatters reached out to Harte’s real estate agent, offering to vacate the property if he paid them $2,000. Negotiating the amount down to $1,200, Harte reluctantly agreed, desperate to regain control of his home. Once the squatters left, he immediately changed the locks and hired a cleaner to restore the property. However, the incident cost Harte not only the money he paid the squatters but also caused endless stress and anxiety during the holiday season.

4: Philadelphia’s Struggle with Squatters

Harte’s experience is not an isolated incident in Philadelphia. The city has been plagued by squatters, leading to costly legal battles for property owners. In 2018, an ordinance was passed to simplify the removal of squatters. However, subsequent legislation weakened the protections for homeowners, leaving them vulnerable to such situations. Despite promises made by Mayor Cherelle L. Parker to address the issue, it remains unclear if combating squatting will be a priority for her administration.


Chris Harte’s ordeal sheds light on the challenges faced by property owners dealing with squatters in Philadelphia. The lack of support from law enforcement and the lengthy eviction process leave homeowners feeling helpless and frustrated. The incident also highlights the need for stronger legislation to protect property owners’ rights and discourage illegal occupations. As homeowners like Harte continue to face these challenges, it becomes evident that a comprehensive solution is necessary to address the issue of squatting and provide homeowners with the security they deserve.

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