Squatters in your listing, rental property, vacant home?
Worse than ghosts?
The new trend of squatters who move in and change the locks seems to be increasing.
Recently in Laguna Beach two listings were invaded by homeless persons who set up house.
They are bold when approached by owners or Realtors.
Legally an owner must go through a court eviction to remove them from the premises, even though they have no lease or rental agreement. This can be a time consuming and costly process. First the owner must uncover the squatter’s legal names. Next they must post and serve a Notice to Vacate, then wait and file an Unlawful Detainer. Court date is often a month away, meanwhile these con artists set up cable, make a mess and can be destructive. You still need to pay your mortgage and expenses.
The Sheriff or police may not want to be the judge, as squatters will claim they have a lawful purpose to be in the home.They often provide a bogus rental agreement. Hopefully the officer can acquire their legal name to run for outstanding warrants. If you are the legal owner you could file a citizen’s arrest for breaking and entering but succeeding in having the officer arrest a person who appears normal and has no prior record will be difficult.
Things you can do to protect yourself as an owner:
1 1. When you list a property put your telephone number and name in each photograph. Gimp is a free software that you can navigate
2. 2. If you plan to leave town for an extended period of time (job move, tour of duty, long vacation) have a trusted person check on the house and enter once a week. Change the lights, pick up mail, and make adjustments
3. 3. If you are leasing a vacant property out of town, use a local Realtor to list.
4. 4. Don’t post on Facebook that you are away.
5. 5. Having a house sitter might be a good protection.
What Lenders can Do to Protect REO, foreclosure, empty short sale
1. Hire local Realtor who will check on the subject
2. Check the locks and security
3. Keep the front lawn up.
4. Change things around.
5. Allow Real Estate Agents to hold open house a couple days a week
6. Price the house to sell
If you have questions, I'm happy to help.