Roommates can be irritating. Maybe they come home at odd hours, leave the lights on, eat all your food, or refuse to take out the garbage. But while these habits may annoy you, they don't compare with not knowing you have a roommate in the first place.
Perhaps you come home one day and discover a few things out of place, or can't find the groceries you swore you just bought, leading you to ponder, "Is there someone secretly living in my house?" It's hard to imagine someone invading your home without your knowledge, but news accounts of secret house guests suggest it's not an impossible scenario.
Certain signs can tell you if someone secretly lives in your house, but there are a lot of ways an unwanted guest can turn your home... into theirs.
We've all been awakened in the middle of the night by strange sounds. Maybe it's just the house creaking, or a squirrel, or a tree rattling against a window. Still, it's hard to shake the feeling of paranoia that an intruder may be the one making a ruckus.
A woman in Arlington, VA, discovered a homeless man was living in her attic in 2017 after she reportedly heard a series of noises coming from above her ceiling. Police arrested the man, and the woman's attic returned to its status as a storage spot. Attics remain an easy target for unwanted guests because homeowners likely don't spend much time in them.
So, the next time you wake up to an unfamiliar sound from above, keep your phone handy just in case it's something bigger than a squirrel.
Cleaning your house or apartment might feel tedious, but it serves as a way to learn if someone slinks around when you're not home. If fingerprints suddenly appear on a doorframe or window pane no one in your household ever touches, you might have an unwanted intruder.
But someone secretly living in your place could also leave fingerprints on often-used, important, or necessary objects - basically, places where food is kept, along with any doors or windows through which they can easily slip.
And don't forget to look for strange footprints, as well.
You've dumped baking soda down every drain in the house. You've scrubbed. You've lit candles, incense, and sage. You've sprayed enough air freshener to make your head spin. But you can't get rid of that smell.
Terrible odors that never seem to go away, or unfamiliar smells - like cigarette smoke or alcohol, when no one in the house smokes or drinks - might indicate an unwanted guest, especially if the visitor doesn't have steady access to bathroom facilities.
The good news? You've honed your housecleaning skills. The bad news? You might need to call the police for a different sort of housecleaning.
You probably don't spend much time in your attic, other than to pop in occasionally and access seasonal items or store nostalgic stuff. But some people never go up to their attic in the first place, which isn't surprising.
Attics are usually dark, dusty, cramped - and the site of too many horror-film incidents. So, if you've never been past that rectangular threshold in your ceiling, muster the courage to take a look. An unwanted visitor might be taking advantage of your attic indifference and using your unclaimed third bedroom as their own.