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Communities across America are speaking out about the problem squatters pose not only to property owners but neighborhoods as a whole. One Atlanta resident said squatters have even brought drugs and prostitution to his area. 

Mel Keyton, president of the Hampton Oaks Homeowners Association, told “Fox & Friends” life has been “terrible” when trying to deal with the squatter problem. 

“We’ve had everything from fentanyl sales, prostitution rings, a person wanted for murder. We had armed robbery going on,” Keyton told co-host Lawrence Jones Thursday. 

“It’s been really, really bad.”

FIVE TIMES SQUATTERS WERE BUSTED AFTER TAKING OVER HOMES: WHAT TO KNOW

Keyton explained that squatting is considered a civil matter, which makes it more difficult to address the problem and remove unwanted residents.

“Because the police doesn’t have any authority over civil matters, they just let them stay,” he said.

But Keyton said his neighborhood has taken direct action to address the problem, bringing the total number of squatters from 18 down to five. 

“We actually have been catching them in the act of breaking into the homes and getting them removed right back out.”

BLUE STATE SQUATTER PUT ON NOTICE WITH ‘AGGRESSIVE’ LAW AND ORDER BILL: ‘PEOPLE ARE GETTING KILLED’

The state of Georgia has also taken action, pushing new legislation that would give more rights to homeowners and make squatting a misdemeanor criminal offense with the possibility of jail time or fines. 

Keyton, a Democratic candidate for the Georgia State House, said the law can’t come soon enough as lawmakers await the governor’s signature.

Under the new law, potential squatters will have to present a verifiable lease agreement or be charged and face criminal penalties. They may also be required to pay back rent for the time they inhabited the living space.

One Georgia property owner said she is now facing more than $30,000 in damages from squatters who destroyed the home. She said they broke in through doors, windows and by cutting holes in the walls.

The squatters reportedly took copper from the HVAC system, pulled the furnace out of the attic, cut the wiring and damaged the framing and siding on the house. 

Ultimately, she was forced to install a lock system on all doors and windows to keep out potential future squatters. 

Atlanta squatter crisis

Though the new law will empower property owners and landlords, there are still issues with housing companies trying to cut corners and repeat squatting offenders. 

“These companies, they actually don’t have a real underwriting process,” Keyton explained. 

“And then [buyers] get these homes, and they move into them, and they really don’t understand. And then when they realize they can’t afford it, they’ll just stay in the house or they’ll leave and find another house in the same neighborhood and move into that one. So that’s been an issue.”

Fox News’ Taylor Penley contributed to this report. 

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