KC Squatters’ Handbook encourages the liberation of vacant homes

Homeless? Evicted? Have we found the handbook for you!

“Rent is theft. This zine is free,” proclaims the cover of the Kansas City Squatters’ Handbook,

a guide put together by a local anarchist group. And if you don’t mind

the Marxist lingo that colors the 27-page zine’s introduction, it’s a

surprisingly practical read.

Squatting has been making the news lately, what with the foreclosure crisis emptying homes all across the country. Yes, it’s illegal. But if the squatters are the courteous kind, their residency in a foreclosed-upon home can provide a measure of safety in a hard-hit neighborhood. The far-away banks that now own these homes don’t have the manpower to check up on them very often. Warm bodies in a building can keep it secure from intruders who would ransack the place for copper and fixtures.

The legal information inside The KC Squatters’ Handbook is pretty fascinating (especially if it’s correct). It quotes the Kansas City Police Department’s Procedural Instruction Manual¬† on

landlord/tenant disputes, which states that because such disputes are civil, not criminal, police officers don’t usually become involved in eviction actions.

“To

establish residency/tenancy to a police officer,” the zine reads, “and

to escape the possibility of trespassing charges, the KCPD procedural

handbook states that at minimum, an individual show personal

possessions within the building (clothing, furniture, appliances, etc.). A written lease is not required.”

In the section called “Finding a Building,” the zine advises potential squatters to search the online databases of the city, county, and Land Trust, to find out the status of empty properties.

“General wisdom on squatting is that it can be much [more] difficult to be evicted from a city-owned building than from a privately-owned one,” the handbook reads. “… On the other hand, a private owner who pays the taxes but has otherwise totally abandoned a property might make a very desirable ‘landlord.'”

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