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How to get rid of squatters in your land?


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BossHog

Our "neighborhood" on the outskirts of this tiny provincial town is starting to gentrify.

 

School teachers, cops, and the vice mayor have built/are building/plan to build fairly decent houses nearby.

 

When we bought here the newly paved highway was a carabao path, there was no running water or electricity. Now, it seems to have become a desirable place to live.

 

There are five little native houses on our land that have been there since we bought the land years ago.They're part of a village of crab fishermen who make their living on the river. Maybe thirty huts in all.

 

They're not really squatters like you think of in the city. They're productive people who are good neighbors and many are our friends.

 

 

 

We heard today that someone bought the land under another part of the village and are just going to kick out the fishermen.

 

Now that the land is becoming more valuable (unimproved rough land is being sold for 500 php sqm. we bought our land for less than 10 php sqm) I'd kind of like to get them off our property and put up a fence to establish boundaries but to do so in the best way possible.

 

 

Really, I want to level off the ground, plant bermuda grass, plant fruit trees and add yet another big yard with some trellises and arbors. Not really needed but it would give us a nice buffer on that side of the property.

 

I estimate we would be "reclaiming" about 2,500 sqm. Not an insubstantial plot.

 


 

The scenario I'm hoping for is to give each family 10-20,000 pesos to relocate. If they're attached to living there I'm not going to force them to move, though. Seems generous to me as I don't think they have any legal claim on the land. But you know how people here will demand astronomical sums sometimes.

 

Through experience I know that if we buy them all out then we have to be prepared with the cash and paperwork and get it all done at once before they demand some unreasonable sum.

 

They seem to be under the impression that it's "public land" and they have a right to live there rent free. Do people accrue rights to land through occupancy over time?

 

We've stopped people from building new huts there recently and they have agreed that we have title.

 

The land's been surveyed and the boundary markers, "monuments", clearly show these five huts as being on our property.

 

 

 

I built a jetty into the river and they use it for keeping their traps and boats and I'll let them continue to do so, but I'd like to get that land cleared out, fenced in, and improved.

 

I'm not looking for drama but I reckon if we own the land we should be able to use it as we please.

 

Any thoughts?

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Take the maybe 150,000-200,000 you have mentally budgeted and arrange to buy them a cheap piece of land as a replacement. Of course it wont be on the water- because that is the reason that the land wh

if you can come up with another piece of land, great. if you offer them money, make it all or nothing. Either they all take it and leave or nobody gets it. Pit them against each other. Otherwise you w

The problem that I see is that by your own admission these are productive people who rely on their location for their livelihood.   I can understand that you want to "develop" land that is yours, bu

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Yes - ask the vice-,mayor how he (she?) would deal with the situation. By observation, the filipino method is to be quite ruthless. A local person in a similar position would either have solved the problem when they got title, or simply say "leave" while standing alongside a bulldozer.

 

By offering compensation, you concede that the crab fishermen have rights. This doesn't make any logical sense in western thinking. Title is title, boundaries are defined and you are actually trying to be kind and considerate.  

 

A friend of ours leased some land and built a couple of hundred thousand pesos worth of house on it. Two years later, "leave!". No explanation, no court challenge, just sadness.

 

 

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Davaoeno

Take the maybe 150,000-200,000 you have mentally budgeted and arrange to buy them a cheap piece of land as a replacement. Of course it wont be on the water- because that is the reason that the land where they are located is valuable.  But maybe not too far from the water. Then tell them if they all agree in a notarized agreement to move to the new land you will buy it and put it in their names [ or maybe a co-operative name if that works better for them.  I see that being done here all the time when squatters are involved.

 

And they get to take their huts with them - saves you disposing of them 

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SomeRandomGuy

u could dot it city style,,, can of fuel and a match seems to work for quiet a few land owners in cebu

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Since the land belongs to you then you are in point of fact thier landlord.

 

tell them you are going to have to charge them rent for the land they are using or offer them help to shift there stuff. one thing i have learned about the philippines is you get feck all for free. Not even a cardboard box. why should they be any different.

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shadow

Since the land belongs to you then you are in point of fact thier landlord.

 

tell them you are going to have to charge them rent for the land they are using or offer them help to shift there stuff. one thing i have learned about the philippines is you get feck all for free. Not even a cardboard box. why should they be any different.

if you can come up with another piece of land, great. if you offer them money, make it all or nothing. Either they all take it and leave or nobody gets it. Pit them against each other. Otherwise you will inevitably have some hold out for the bigger score.

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BossHog

Don't know why but I feel like I should justify my reasons for wanting them to move. For some reason, it makes me feel guilty.

 

I envision a time in the next ten years when we may want to sell up and move to a completely remote location.The property will be worth a lot more with an additional 2,500 sqm of manicured and landscaped grounds and no legal problems.

 

I'll see how it works out with the people who are getting 'evicted' soon and watch their response.

 

Davao, I like your idea and will ask my lawyer about that. We have a meeting soon. There is waterfront land directly across the river for sale but it's being sold in big lots. 50,000+ sqm per plot.

 

I don't, however, feel like negotiating a settlement when I'm trying to be generous. Basically, it's you can either be kicked out or be kicked out with enough money to build a new house. Your choice.

 

Do my figures of compensation sound okay? We had a similar situation when we bought the land and paid the old caretaker to leave and she was quite happy with 10,000 pesos at that time. These houses are really rickety shacks by the way. You know the type.

 

Like I said it's only five houses but of course there are lots of children and babies involved. I feel like I need to tread carefully both for my conscience and continued well being here.

 

I feel like I should just approach them and sound them out on the idea of moving but that it would just lead to demands for larger sums.

 

Would just offering them compensation actually be recognizing their legal right to occupy the land?

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I also like Davaoeno's idea modified by Shadow's caveat.

 

20k will not build a structure suitable for a family, so it depends on whether you are going to just give them some compensation or fund their relocation.

 

Your attorney will give you an opinion on their rights - a much more valid one than mine.

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I have heard different stories, where, in some cases, it took a long time to get squatters off a given piece of land. I am talking legalities here. But, I would definitely confirm that with the proper - powers-that-be. I have also heard of instances where the land owner(s) paid the squatters to leave given properties. Obviously, the latter would be the better option. 

 

I would agree with the all-or-nothing deal, in that everyone would have to take the offer in order for it to be valid. If only x number of people living there took it, then it would be no good. I also would make it as generous as you can, considering you have gotten to know these people over time - years. They are your friends, after all. 

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BossHog

 

 

I also would make it as generous as you can

 

That's what I'm trying to do. We're not loaded.

 

 

 

20k will not build a structure suitable for a family

 

The current housing isn't worth much if anything. I'm talking about paying for replacement value not buying them condos. They could rebuild what they have for nothing. All native materials. The kids in the family make nipa roofing material for sale, for example. They could rebuild for nothing, just takes work to gather materials. Maybe 100 pesos for a few kilos of nails. Especially since they can take the posts, haligue, with them.  Maybe I'll take pictures of the land in question in the morning.

 

I dunno, maybe they'll jump at 10,000 pesos per family. I'm sure it's more than they've ever had at one time.

 

Yes, most of them are our friends and visit with us daily. Hoping for a happy resolution.

 

There's a lot more money on the island than before and people who had moved to Manila are finding that they can do better on the island now than laboring in the city. We're experiencing reverse migration and the squeeze for land has intensified. Another reason I'd like to resolve this before more people attempt to move in.

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Make it haunted for awhile---------------------------- then offer the relocation money

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I applaud your civilized way of trying to deal with this situation.  In my view, this is not just being kind hearted.  If you go about this correctly, it can be a relatively inexpensive process and permanent.  If possible, avoiding the adversarial seems prudent.

 

There are steps to take through the barangay which can result in the removal of the tenants.  This is not unusual and does work.  However, there is a risk of a holdout on the part of the families or others joining in.  I suspect from the way you describe this, it is a fairly common situation.  We have numerous families in our community squatting in a similar fashion.  In some ways it is like sharecropping.

 

A simpler way is to use negotiating skills of a trusted ally and make a cash offer.  I have my own opinions about this as to amounts and such.  Ultimately, you need to decide what is reasonable and stick to it.

 

If you choose to go the formal/legal route, there is a distinct possibility you could end up with a lawsuit to evict them.  The result would most likely be the same.....you have them evicted, they get compensated.

 

The reason that is a bad idea is that you put the process in the hands of lawyers and a court.  Once in, you have no easy way out of this dilemma.  There will be an attorney fee, plus his costs such as court appearances.  There will be filing fees or publishing fees etc.  The squatters will likely qualify for assistance form the Public Attorney Office (PAO).  So, you end up the only one paying.

 

At some point, the lawsuit will take you to a mediator and it is likely at that time you will make an offer and they will accept.  Up to now, this cost them nothing but time.  So, you end up with a cash settlement PLUS the cost of the lawyer and such.

 

It would not surprise me to learn that the squatters were advised to hold out for more money than you will offer.  Simple greed with coaching from others.  Especially true of you are a foreigner and "rich". 

 

The only practical suggestion I have is to approach the families with cash in hand and documents ready for signature.  By cash I mean a big wad of cash, probably in 500 or 100 peso notes which will be clearly shown to them.  This has worked for me.

 

I would also have cement and hollow blocks ready for the fence you should build immediately after the negotiation.

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Brucewayne

Our neighbor hired a priest to "curse" the house of the squatters next to them.

Took 2 hours for them to clear out.

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A_Simple_Man

 

 

I applaud your civilized way of trying to deal with this situation

Agree.  Squattting is a way of life here.  Rather than fighting it as some do, I applaud the civilized way of dealing with it.  Do you have any idea of the verbal agreement the previous owner of the land may have had with the squatters?  It may be helpful to find out.

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shadow

 

 

20k will not build a structure suitable for a family, so it depends on whether you are going to just give them some compensation or fund their relocation.

 

 

We have built several native houses for less than P20,000, including paint and varnish which they will not be using, and paid for labor on top of that. A native house can be very cheap to build, especially when the labor is free (family). We built a 9X20 shed earlier this year complete with modest electricity and plumbing, materials cost was less than P8,000. This shed is probably much nicer than what they are living in now.

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