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Thread: Rental home has squatter: What should we do?

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Rental home has squatter: What should we do?

    Just curious...

    We have a home that was owned by my MIL, who moved down to our neighborhood. We never had a chance to sell her home before the recession (plus my MIL turned down two decent offers, razzle-frazzle). So we rented the house to tenants for two years.

    The tenants were fine, very few calls for repairs, paid pretty much on time, etc. But when our taxes were raised significantly we started bleeding money and determined we had to not renew the tenants' lease and sell the house asap.

    So we gave them 60 days to leave, and they did so, July 31. What we didn't know was that they were running a boarding house, subletting every habitable space in the house--even the unheated enclosed front porch--to people on social services.

    All the legal tenants, and their sublessors all left except one. On August 1, my husband got a call from a girl who said that she didn't know she had to leave, that she had a place as of Sept 1, could she stay until then.

    Being the good-hearted suckers my husband and I can be, we told her to send whatever rent she had been previously paying (now she would have run of the whole 4 bedroom house for $400), but she had to be out by Sept 1.

    Well, you know what's coming. Now she's saying her new place won't be ready until November 1. Meanwhile, my DH and my BIL are headed up north on Friday (tomorrow) for full court press on readying the house for sale--locks changed, cleaners coming, junk carted away, etc. etc. In addition, we've gotten calls from the next door neighbor recently saying there's a lot of "activity" going on--cars pulling in and out at all hours, and we know that she did or does have a drug problem

    The girl (who we are now officially calling a squatter), will not leave. She's told us she doesn't have to, that she doesn't want to lose her stuff, she has nowhere to go, etc. etc.

    So NOW, on top of all the chores my DH has tomorrow, he has to figure out how to get her out! She hung up on him stating that she has no intention to be out tomorrow.

    Anyone have any similar experience? Does my AH call the real estate lawyer we have? Or the police?
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  2. #2
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    So did she get "permission" from the original renter? Have the original renters been making money off people living in your house? I wonder if there's been alot of damage to the house?
    If you need to ready the house for selling, then I'd probably check out how much stuff she has, the condition of the house, and then probably tell her to put her stuff in storage. I'm just wondering what the "terms" to her were when she began renting the house from the original renters.
    What a mess! Oh....I just read the drugs part. She's out of there!

  3. #3
    Senior Member treehugger's Avatar
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    I honestly have no advice about what to do, having never been a landlord, but I do want to suggest looking up your legal rights and responsibilities in your city. I know that some cities give way more rights to the tenants than to the landlords. So, even though she was never a legal tenant or yours, you may not actually be able to (legally) evict her immediately. Just make sure to protect yourselves, is all I am saying. My sympathies; that sounds like a big mess to deal with.

    Kara

  4. #4
    Senior Member jennipurrr's Avatar
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    Sorry you are dealing with this!!! It sounds like a nightmare.

    Tread lightly here. Do not toss her stuff on the curb. You do not want to do an illegal eviction because if she is one of those who uses and abuses the system, she will know the rules better than you.

    Find out how to out all you can about evictions in your state. Speak to a lawyer immediately, if possible. Someone at the sheriff's office may be able to help you out too.

    I had a tenant who was making crack in the rental a couple years ago and it was such a headache getting him out. I was fortunate that I knew who his father was (even though the tenant was a grown man) and I called his dad and said look, your son is making crack and stripped my rental of all pawnable items and fortunately daddy cleaned up the mess. Otherwise we would have been in a similar boat. I had him sign the papers to vacate on threat of prosecution for theft.

    It is going to be long and costly if you have to do a regular eviction and she could trash the house by the time she is done. The best case if possible is to see if she will sign paperwork to voluntarily vacate the house. In this case, you will probably only be able to do this if you give her some money. Maybe the equivalent of now to Nov rent? I know, it feels like she has you hostage. Even though it sounds painful, it is less so than having to drag out an eviction. I would go that route and see if she is up for it.

    Edited to add...are there utilities on at the property? Who is paying them? This is also something an attorney could help you with also. There is a very fine line between cutting off essential services to a tenant and making them uncomfortable. In my state heat is essential, AC is optional. I know of people who disconnect a wire on the AC to deal with bad tenants, and in the summer in Alabama they don't last too long after that. Also, in an HOA I am a member of, we pay the cable TV bill. We had a unit that was months behind on the HOA dues, but continued to rent out the unit and make money off of it. So, we cut the cable to their unit. Just thinking out loud here.....
    Last edited by jennipurrr; 9-8-11 at 10:25pm.

  5. #5
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    Research the landlord/tenant laws in your state. Call the local welfare office & an attorney. Get referrals for local shelters from the welfare office to give her, and find out how to legally evict someone from the attorney. And have some compassion for this girl-she's scared about being homeless & vulnerable, and she got screwed by the tenants.

  6. #6
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Evictt before the weather gets cold as it will be harder to evict in cold weather in our part of the world anyway.
    As Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

  7. #7
    Low Tech grunt iris lily's Avatar
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    oh Catherine, I'm sorry to hear this. Be careful with this squatter. Tenants really suck. That's why we don't have any in our ""income" properties, ha ha.

    Do not, whatever you do, watch the film Pacific Heights with Melanie Griffiths while you are in this sitch.

    edited to add:

    In addition to consulting legal authorities, it might be useful to contact the local gendarmes to let them know you are onto this chick, you are trying to boot her, and if she's been causing trouble (and you have no idea how many calls for service neighbors have made due to her drug selling activities) they will want to be supportive of you getting her out of there and moving her along, hopefully to another policing district.
    Last edited by iris lily; 9-9-11 at 1:48am.

  8. #8
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Update: Now I know why there's the term "squatter's rights." She is not leaving; SHE had preemptively called the police when my DH pulled in the driveway--thank goodness he has asked our real estate agent and property manager to be there as well, just to witness the interaction. She stated that her social worker advised her that she doesn't have to move--the police said we have to get the marshall to evict her, which could take a few weeks, even though we didn't know she was even occupying the house. My DH had turned ON the electricity for her when we agreed to let her stay for one month; now it's against the law to turn it off. So we're paying $3500 a month for this obstinate squatter to live in a home that is ruining us financially anyway.

    Redfox, I know I should be compassionate, and I am trying to put myself in her shoes. Certainly no one wants to be tossed on the street and we don't want her tossed on the street which is why we gave her August--but on the other hand, this house is eating us alive. If we can't get the house taken care of by November, we might as well kiss 4 months goodbye in terms of selling opportunity.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  9. #9
    rodeosweetheart
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    If she is selling drugs on your property, can't you get her arrested?

    If she was an illegal sublet, can't the sheriff evict her?

    Sorry, IrisLily's Pacific Heights reference totally freaked me out. That was the movie that put an end to my career as a landlord.

    My one tenant did come back and squat in my house and steal my mother's chain saw, the bas7%4d. Honestly, I don't ever want to be a landlord again.

  10. #10
    rodeosweetheart
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    Just read your latest, Catherine. Call the marshall immediately. She is showing no compassion to you, she is distinctly Pacific Heights here. Call the social worker's supervisor and document what she told her client.

    Do whatever you can legally, and begin the eviction process now.

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