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What Is Phrogging? Is It The Same as Squatting?

Last updated 01/10/2023 by

Benjamin Locke

Edited by

Fact checked by

Summary:
Phrogging describes a situation in which a person lives in an occupied home for some time when they are not legally allowed to do so. It’s similar to squatting. But with phrogging, the home is occupied as opposed to squatting, in which the property sits empty except for the squatter. There are simple ways to prevent phrogging and steps you can take to remedy the situation should you find an unwanted phrogger in your house.
If you’re old enough to remember the Atari game Frogger, you probably think of that when you hear the word “phrogger.” However, “phrogging” has a totally different meaning. Phrogging is the act of living in a person’s home in secret (and perhaps leaping from place to place). That is to say, if you wake up one day to discover a disheveled-looking individual who has been to living in your basement for six months without your knowledge, this is phrogging.
Phrogging is similar to squatting in that an individual lives in a home they don’t own, rent, or otherwise have a legal right to be in, with one important difference. With phrogging, the individual lives in a home that is occupied, with or without the occupants knowing. Although it sounds almost unbelievable that someone could live in an occupied home for significant periods of time, it happens more frequently than you might think. Fortunately, a homeowner or renter can take steps to prevent a prospective phrogger in their home. And if you do discover a phrogger, there are several laws that you can use to prosecute the offender.

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What is phrogging?

Phrogging is not an official legal term but rather a popular word for the act of squatting in an occupied house. Squatting is the act of living in another person’s home or on land that you have no legal right to occupy. It usually consists of a person or groups of people living in empty or abandoned properties.
The key with phrogging, however, is that the home being illegally occupied is occupied by other individuals who do have the right to be there. Although it sounds unusual, there are some famous cases in which phroggers were caught red-handed on an occupied property they weren’t allowed to use.

Famous phrogging cases

Many people have tried phrogging at a celebrity’s house, but it usually ends in their arrest.
  • P. Diddy. In 2012, a man named Quamine Taylor broke into P. Diddy’s mansion and planned to stay in hiding at the house for up to several weeks. However, Taylor only managed 24 hours, and his extended phrogging dreams were cut short. He ended up serving jail time.
  • George Michael. George Michael discovered a woman living under his London home for days, also in 2012. The odd part about it was that she was living under his floorboards. He heard someone calling his name one day, and the woman jumped out of the floorboards to greet him, after which he promptly called the police.
  • Pamela Anderson. In 2001, a phrogger snuck into Pamela Anderson’s house and set up camp in her pool house. Anderson began noticing an ongoing disappearance of food and clothing from her home before she caught on. When Anderson finally caught her, the woman was wearing the famous red Baywatch swimsuit that she had stolen directly out of Anderson’s wardrobe.

How to prevent phrogging

Celebrities know they run the risk of being stalked or having people follow them, so some of their security protocols are just second nature. However, if you’re not a celebrity, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your home from getting phrogged.

Check on your non-used spaces

Crawl spaces, garages, basements, and attics are some of the more hidden spaces that you might not check regularly and thus are ideal phrogging grounds. A rule of thumb is to check all of the more hidden spaces in your home once a week. You might be able to catch any phroggers right away, rather than weeks or months later.

Set up security cameras

Many people already have a security camera installed in the form of a smart doorbell, such as a Ring camera. However, putting security cameras that capture the backyard and all entrances into your home can prevent phroggers from entering in sneakier ways.

Pro Tip

If you have a tenant or a guest that has overstayed, this is not considered phrogging. If tenants do not have a lease renewal but continue to stay, this could be defined as a month-to-month rental, depending on the laws in that particular state. With guests, as they are invited into the home, other laws might apply.

Monitor your belongings

Phroggers are famous for taking food on the down low, so keep an eye out for unusual activities in the fridge. If 25% of your roast beef keeps mysteriously disappearing, it might be a phrogger. The same goes for clothes. Maybe one item going missing is a normal phenomenon, but two could be the work of a phrogger.

Get a dog

Anyone who has ever had a dog knows they can use their heightened sense of smell to find every treat you ever tried to hide from them. So they might be able to sniff out a stranger in your house. Dogs can also alert you to unusual noises, such as someone sneaking around your property late at night.

Laws that can be used against phroggers

If you’ve discovered a phrogger, don’t worry. In the vast majority of cases, they can be arrested for violating several laws, some of which might even result in jail time.

Criminal trespass

Even if the phrogger doesn’t damage anything and is a perfectly nice individual, they could still be charged with a crime. Criminal trespass is defined as entering land or property without consent. If the phrogger never obtained consent, which by definition they don’t, then they are naturally subject to these charges.

Invasion of privacy, stalking, and harassment

Invasion of privacy or voyeurism are typical charges that all phroggers may face, regardless of their relationship with the owner. However, particularly if the homeowner knew the phrogger beforehand, then the phrogger can be charged with stalking or harassment as well. This happens a lot with celebrities, since random people can become obsessed with them.

Destruction of property and vandalism

Not all phroggers damage the home or property they live in. Some phroggers will treat their phrogging accommodations as if they were maids in a five-star hotel. However, in many cases, there will be some sort of damage, slight or significant, to the property. In those cases, the phroggers can be charged with destruction of property or vandalism.

Burglary

Squatting and phrogging can sometimes bring burglary charges, even if the person is not doing something that most would consider outright burglary. If they use utilities like water, electricity, or gas, for instance, they are stealing utilities from the home. If phroggers enter a place with the intent to steal as well as phrog, they could be charged with felony burglary.
Do you want to ensure that you are protected in case of theft or damage to your home? View some of your options for homeowners insurance.

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FAQs

Is phrogging legal?

No, phrogging is not legal. There are multiple charges a phrogger can be hit with, from criminal trespass to stalking to burglary. Some of those charges could result in jail time.

What is the point of phrogging?

There are two situations in which phrogging tends to happen. The first is a homeless person or people searching for a roof over their heads and finding a basement or guest house that the homeowner isn’t monitoring. The second is a stalker or people with infatuations sneaking into someone’s home.

Can a squatter claim a house?

Yes, they can in certain circumstances. If a squatter occupies a home for a long period of time without any dispute by the owner, they can legally lay claim to the property. That said, each state has different laws regarding squatters’ rights and how much time must go by before they can make a claim.

Is squatting a police matter?

Yes, squatting is illegal and, therefore, a police matter. If you have a squatter on your property or a property that you know about, the best course of action is to call the police.

Key Takeaways

  • Phrogging describes a situation in which a person lives in an occupied home where they are not legally allowed to do so. The term implies that a person might leap from place to place.
  • Phrogging is similar to squatting. But with phrogging, the home is occupied as opposed to squatting, in which the property sits empty except for the squatter.
  • Phrogging usually occurs when someone is simply looking for a place to sleep or someone is obsessed with another person and wants to get as close to them as possible.
  • There are steps you can take to prevent phrogging, such as installing security cameras, checking rarely used spaces, and getting a dog.
  • Phroggers can be charged with numerous offenses, including criminal trespassing, stalking, and burglary.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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