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There was a house, actually a set of houses I was going to profile here on the blog as a vacant property. They were the type of vacant property that could look occupied if you weren’t looking closely enough, like 403 R St NW. Then I was told by a person in the know that someone who I was aware of, is squatting in one of the two townhomes. So it sort of isn’t vacant. Sort of.
I had known Mr. Squatter was a squatter, I just didn’t know where. When I was told about him, I had to admire his creativity and chutzpah. He has cable, I do not. And up until recently he also had free electricity and water. He hasn’t damaged the place where he stays and I imagine he keeps a pretty small footprint in order to go fairly unnoticed.
My first encounter with squatting and squatter’s rights was in London in the 90s, when I was looking for a place to stay. A magazine, Time Out London I guess, listed it as one of several options. Also I remember watching some television show where the character was claiming squatter’s rights. It is more a part of the culture there, more so than here. There are some subtle differences between a squatter and a homeless person breaking into a vacant property.
Since it is a range of townhomes, I looked at the taxes for all, and at some point in time each one was paying a higher, and I’ll guess vacant, tax bill. Currently none are charged at the higher vacant tax rate.
The neighborhood is becoming fairly hot, real estate wise, and I don’t know how much longer he’ll stay, particularly since the police had turned off his utilities. Yes, the police turned off the utilities, but did not evict him. Ponder that one for a moment. Anyway, when the absentee owner does finally decide to sell or make it profitable, Mr. Squatter knows of another property, vacant, in good condition, and stuck in the court system, where he can relocate. He’ll be fine, because he’s smart enough and knows how to play the game.