Squatters can be good for a neighbourhood as they indirectly protect abandoned homes by lessening the chance of them becoming a spot for drug users or burned by arsonists, a new study said.
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"In urban communities homes have been abandoned by owners or often left unattended by private investors. While attempts to revitalise a city rely on private ownership to induce responsible care for property, that isn't always an option," said Claire Herbert, researcher at the University of Michigan.
That is where squatters come in. Squatters are those who illegally occupy vacant homes or buildings.
Herbert interviewed more than 60 people, including squatters, city authorities, and residents while also gathering ethnographic data on illegal property use from various sources, such as community meetings and squatted areas.
Surprisingly, many of the residents in the study welcomed squatters to keep abandoned homes occupied.
Squatting, however, was not considered acceptable to residents if the home was still occupied or if the legal owner was maintaining and overseeing the property.
"But, when there is minimal police or city oversight to enforce legal owners to maintain their vacant properties, neighbouring residents seek solutions," Herbert said.
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Many forego involving the police or other city authorities to enforce legal ownership, but instead encourage responsible squatters in order to bring about the kind of positive impact that legal ownership is supposed to bring, the study suggested.