A handyman who once removed squatters from his mother’s home is using his experience to offer squatter removal services for others.
“If somebody needs help, I will go,” Flash Shelton, who founded the United Handyman Association, told Fox News.
If a squatter initially refuses to leave or can’t be removed immediately because of legal constraints, Shelton said he would have the homeowner write up a lease so he can move into the house with the squatter.
“I can basically become a tenant and live with them until they choose to leave on their own,” he said. “Go in and sit on the couch and open the fridge and basically be like, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but this is my home now.’”
“The adrenaline kicks in, and I just go in, and I just feel comfortable, and I just make it happen,” Shelton continued. “They’re not only surprised, they don’t know how to react.”
He said he likes to install Ring cameras in every room and tell the squatters they’re on a reality show.
“People kind of want to get away as fast as possible, and they don’t want to be seen,” Shelton said.
If a squatter leaves the home briefly, Shelton said he acts quickly to secure the home.
“Before they even know what’s happening, I’ve already removed them,” he said.
Shelton said he has both physically helped others in California, where he lives, and has provided consulting over Zoom to teach others his methods.
But he doesn’t recommend everyone deploy his methods because of safety concerns.
“I prepare so much ahead of time and because I know all about who I’m going to deal with, I know how many people are there,” he said. “There are risks involved, and I don’t recommend that people do this on their own, but I will help you and give you tools and try to help you do it in a peaceful way.”
“There’s a job to do, and it’s all with safety in mind,” Shelton added.
Shelton said he was certified in de-escalation tactics in a former job and believes they are helpful for his new line of work.
“Being certified in de-escalation helps me remain calm and in control of the situation without making it more physical or exaggerated or raising tempers,” he said.
Shelton received national attention when he removed squatters from his mother’s home.
In a video documenting the situation, which garnered millions of views on YouTube, he explains that he staked out the home to wait for the squatters to leave so he could secure the property and install cameras.
At the time, Shelton said he was in a vulnerable place because he had just lost his father and was taking care of his mother.
“Squatters are ruining lives, and they’re taking homes and homes that people have worked their whole lives for,” he said. “My mom didn’t deserve to have to go through that.”
Shelton added that his situation opened his eyes to many others who had similar issues and needed help.
“Since then, people have reached out to me asking my advice,” he said. “I started offering squatter services to help other people.”
Shelton started a petition this year to make squatting illegal at the federal level.
It had gathered more than 4,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
He also launched a GoFundMe to help with costs to assist with spreading the word about his petition.
Trespassing is illegal in every state but states have various laws on how to handle squatters, with most relying on civil courts to resolve disputes.
“I think that I have the backing of law enforcement because they wish they could do it,” Shelton said, adding that he’s also had positive feedback from attorneys, realtors and homeowners.