How to kick out a squatter from your home or condo in California. If police won’t remove them then you must evict.
April 28, 2012 1 Comment
I have written several blogs about the squatter phenomenon in America and around the world today. There is a whole squatter movement that preaches that squatters have the right to occupy vacant homes. As I wrote in a previous blog………..many groups are pushing the “housing as a human right” philosophy and encouraging people to take over homes that are unoccupied. They seem to feel entitled to these homes because they believe the banks were responsible for the financial meltdown. Whatever the justification the squatter movement is leading to a situation where vacant homes are being occupied.
It is common now that a bank will foreclose on and take back a home only to have it remain empty for a period. During this period the squatter moves in. A hapless individual buyer may then purchase the home in the foreclosure sale or from a middle man. The homeowner would then be presented with the squatter problem. He may not have been told by the bank and the bank may not have known themselves about the squatter’s existence. Some squatters don’t make their occupation obvious.
Now the problem is that of the current owner. These squatters can be angry, violent and have been known to attack owners or property managers inspecting property. The people inspecting may have no idea that the squatter was there. I reported on this in a previous blog: http://bit.ly/Iyo3g4 .
The squatters rights movement is made all the more possible and widespread by the foreclosure crisis in America which left this large number of homes vacant. The reality is that someone does own these homes. They are either owned by the bank or by some business or individual. Eventually someone, either as owner or renter, will legally attempt to occupy it. If there is a squatter in there then this could be a problem. At that point it does not matter if the squatter is just a lone criminal or someone spurred on by a political movement. He is now the homeowner’s problem.
Many squatters present phony, fraudulent rental agreements to anyone attempting to challenge their occupation of the premises. This present a problem because there is an appearance of legitimacy created by the phony document. This is enough to ward off the police who view this as a legal dispute which needs to be heard in court. In California the police will therefore probably refuse to get involved when called and tell you to get an attorney and evict the squatter.
This is what I recommend too. A client of mine just told me he has a squatter in his condo and I told him the same thing. He needs to evict the squatter immediately. The squatter should be given a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit (or a 3 day notice to vacate the premises because there is not rental agreement or agreed upon rent amount). The notice must be delivered properly and done in the proper format in case the squatter gets a tenants rights lawyer. In California tenants have many rights and as landlord you must be sure to do everything correctly.
Once the 3 day notice is created, signed and delivered personally or by what is called “post and mail” then the 3 days must elapse before you file and eviction. Post and mail means you post a copy and mail a copy to the resident/squatter. You may not know the squatter’s name so that creates another problem too. Now you file the eviction and serve it with a process-server on the squatter.
The next step is defaulting the squatter if he does not answer but if he does then you have to set the case for trial. If he does not show at trial then you get a default judgement and if he does then you must show that you own the property or you are an agent of the owner. If you own the subject property then you can go in at that point and say to the judge that this is a squatter with no legal rights/lease/rental agreement. Let the squatter show his phony lease to the judge. It is unlikely to hold up in court. If it does then you can object and at least demand rent be paid. Be sure to be ready to testify to how long you believe the squatter has occupied the premises so you can demand rent for that whole period.
Chances are the whole thing will break down before this point and you will win. I do recommend a good tenant’s attorney though because these are complicated procedures that need to be done correctly. Remember that “self-help” is not allowed in California and this is the proper legal process if the police will not remove the squatter in the first place.
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