Serving Barnwell County and it's neighbors since 1852

Flash Shelton knows how to get squatters out of your house


Several years ago, a friend’s grandmother died, leaving her fully furnished house vacant and eventually going up for sale. But before my friend could list it, a couple broke in and set up housekeeping. They were squatters.
Local police in the small North Georgia town said they couldn’t help because the house appeared to be occupied. Yes, it was. With trespassers.
The couple eventually left, and the house was sold.
But if Flash Shelton had been around then, he could have evicted the couple much sooner, possibly in one day.
Shelton faced a similar predicament after his father died and his mother moved from Northern California to live with him in the San Fernando Valley. The house was put on the market, but, before long, Shelton was receiving calls from realtors saying they wanted to show the house, but it was occupied.
Shelton spent a day coming up with a plan. He spent the next day confirming it was legal. His plan was to get his mother to sign a lease agreement, making him the legal owner, and then drive north to claim his house. He slept in his Jeep until the occupants left and then entered the house.
He installed Ring cameras throughout the property, preparing to video the squatters’ every move and to expose them on YouTube and social media if he had to. He didn’t have to. He gave one of the squatters—there were five men and two women—until midnight to get their furniture out of the house; otherwise, he would give it away. The squatters didn’t make the deadline, but they were out by 2 or 3 a.m.
Shelton published part of the encounter on YouTube, and suddenly he became—drum roll, please—the Squatter Hunter. His solution: squatting on squatters. His motto: “If they can take a house, I can take a house.”
He made himself available for consultations with victims of squatters—he’s done hundreds of them—requiring nothing more than a contribution to a GoFundMe account advocating for squatter-law changes. If he takes a job, he charges.
“I’ve got trips coming up in New York, Seattle, Illinois, Arizona, ­Nevada,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s crazy.”
Why don’t states declare squatting a criminal offense? I asked Shelton. “Figure that out and let me know,” he said. “It defies all common sense.” His best supporters, he said, are people in law enforcement. They want to do what he’s doing.
Actually, Florida has a new anti-squatting law, thanks in part to ­Shelton. He was there to speak when the bill was signed.
If you watch Shelton at work on YouTube, you’ll see that he’s pretty nice to the squatters. “I have to be nice but stern,” he said. His objective is to get rid of squatters. He’s not looking for a fight.
And, by the way, he doesn’t want to do this the rest of his life. At 56, he just wants to travel, but not to squat on squatters.