How to kick out a squatter from your home or condo in California. If police won’t remove them then you must evict.

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.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com for more info. about any of these topics.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Update on home squatters. They have turned into a full fledged political movement!

The squatter phenomenon that began with current recession and is reminiscent of the great depression is still going strong according to an article in “In These Times”.  Squatters are people who move into vacant homes and refuse to get out until someone evicts them or pays them.  There are plenty of these homes to choose from now in California and many other states due to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.  These squatters are often violent, angry, and sometimes hardened criminals.

In an article about a case right here in San Diego a squatter moved into a foreclosed home and refused to get out until he was paid $25,000 for “cash for keys”.  Banks rarely pay former homeowners more than $5000 for this.  This squatter was arrested fortunately but many others are not.  Another article in FOX 5 News told of a Broker that has been attacked by violent squatters when he was checking on a vacant home for a client.

I wrote in a previous blog ( http://bit.ly/JdF7ea ) what a big headache it is for a homeowner when a squatter moves in and takes over the property.  In the end you may have to pay for an eviction the because the cops don’t want to get involved in a legal dispute between you and the squatter.  This is especially true when the squatters create phony rental agreements to say that they have a legal right to occupy your property.  During the eviction process the homeowner has to support the squatters by paying the bills for the home until the eviction is over and the sheriff comes to throw them out.

These realities are the same for a bank which takes over a foreclosed home that a squatter moves into. And worse it can happen to an investor who buys a foreclosed home at a foreclosure sale.  They may try to move in but find that someone has beaten them to it and that someone may have one of these phony rental agreements.  Then a legal eviction would be required to remove the squatters.  Of course once the eviction is finalized the homeowners will find a completely ruined, trashed, and vandalized homes.  Indeed some of these homes are gutted by the squatters.

Technically these people are trespassers but it is difficult to prove that when they have the lies and phony rental agreements.  Cops won’t remove them in these circumstances and owners have to go through the legal process of eviction.  I used to do evictions in San Diego and I know what a mess they can be especially if the squatters hire an attorney who can fight and delay the process.

Worse than this though is the phenomenon written about in the “In These Times” article.  This is the political movement that is growing up around these squatters and their takeover of these vacant homes.  In the article they talk about a woman who has occupied a vacant home in Chicago’s south side with the help of a group called “Liberate the south side”.  The article states that this group “targets vacant homes for reoccupation”.  The home apparently had been vacant and the group put money into renovating the home.

The article points out that this is happening across the nation in cities like Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis (and apparently here in San Diego too).  And it is also a global movement.  They talk about highly organized groups with “squatting offices” in Spain where they coordinate squatting for squatters.  Similar movements are happening in Ireland too.

These political movements are much more disconcerting than the individual criminal squatters that occupy and then extort.  Law enforcement can take care of them more easily but large groups of squatters who hold sit-ins, occupy homes in large numbers, and refuse to get out can be much more dangerous.  They hold up signs  and they come up with names like “sovereign women of the republic of california” or “poor people’s economic human rights campaign” .

I wrote about these groups in a previous blog (http://bit.ly/I5nsoT ).  They are now buoyed by the Occupy movement and they are now and were then calling housing a “human right”.  I presume that this means to them that houses should be free or supplied by the government like health care and eventually everything else.  If these people were to get their way and occupy these homes permanently then what about everyone else who is paying rent?  Won’t they want their free housing?

In my previous blog I warned about the reality of  what really happens when houses are occupied by squatters.  First of all utilities are shut off because they are not provided for free so squatters often live in the dark and cold with overflowing toilets and they still refuse to get out.  Some of these could move into your vacant home sometime before you can find a renter so be wary!  If the have a political movement behind them demanding free housing because it is their “human right” them they could be even more difficult to get out of your home.

I recommend anyone with any kind of vacant property check their home regularly to see of this is happening.  If the entire neighborhood is vacant then it is even more dangerous because no neighbors are there to watch. Be on the lookout for squatters!

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Good news for tenants! You can wipe out most debt related to your tenancy in bankruptcy!

Tenants often get saddled with debts they cannot pay after renting a house, condo, or apartment.  There are debts for back rent, unpaid utilities, damages to the premises, or unpaid security deposits.  All of these types of debts are dischargeable in a bankruptcy usually with no problem.  A landlord would have to prove fraud or willful and malicious damage to his premises to get these debts to be not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

In some cases there can even be a huge debt left over if you vacate the premises early in a lease.  If you sign a lease for a year and vacate after six months the landlord can sue you for the other six months of the lease.  This can be substantial.  Many of my clients have signed a 10 year lease for a commercial space and then quickly vacated when their businesses failed.  The  landlords then sued and got judgements in excess of $300,000.  These clients quickly filed for bankruptcy and discharged this debt without any trouble and we didn’t ever see the landlords show up at the 341 hearing.

Landlords often threaten you with paying for these debts but just mention the word bankruptcy.  There is nothing they can do once you file bankruptcy if there is no fraud or willful and malicious damage.  So don’t worry when they threaten you with lawsuits.  One of my commercial clients was called to a debtor’s exam about his huge debt for his broken lease.  He showed up with his bankruptcy papers in hand.  The lawyer stuttered and stammered and when she went to the judge he laughed and said she would have to seek redress in bankruptcy court.  We got his discharge and never heard from them again.

Landlords are supposed to make every attempt to re-rent the premises you vacate when you break your lease.  We usually don’t know if they even bother to do this though.  It’s called mitigation of damages.  If the landlord tries but can’t re-rent your vacated premises then you are still liable for the unpaid rent if you don’t file bankruptcy.

Even a debt of $300,000 goes away easily in bankruptcy so don’t worry.  If you are a residential tenant who has a much smaller debt from a few months of back rent then that can be put in the bankruptcy too along with your credit card debts, medical debts, and any other dischargeable debts you may have.

Don’t let a landlord bully of threaten you with a big bill because bankruptcy will wipe it out.  Don’t let them threaten you with a lawsuit either.  A bankruptcy will also stop an eviction and force the landlord to seek a motion for relief from stay before he can remove you from the premises.  If you need more time to vacate the premises then bankruptcy give you extra time to move.

I believe that bankruptcy’s main value is in wiping out those old debts so call a bankruptcy attorney today if you have debts related to a tenancy.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For further information please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Will my landlord be notified of my bankruptcy and can he evict me if I file?

(See my blog with an update to landlord notification and bankruptcy here: http://bit.ly/IAaaQc .)

No!  Your landlord will probably not even know that you filed and if he did you are protected by law.  A landlord cannot legally evict a tenant for filing bankruptcy.  If you file bankruptcy and then try to move in a landlord can keep you out only if he has a policy that every prospective tenant has to follow where he will not rent to bankruptcy filers.  But if you are already in your rental unit and you then file bankruptcy then you are protected by law and the landlord cannot evict you for filing.

Probably though he will never even find out that you filed for bankruptcy.  It is only if you have a unexpired lease for any amount of time that he would be notified of your filing.  If you are month to month then your landlord won’t be notified.  But if the landlord somehow finds out about your bankruptcy or he is notified directly because of an ongoing lease he still cannot evict you.   If your landlord tries to evict you after a bankruptcy and because of the bankruptcy then you can fight the eviction in California.  I believe other states have similar defenses to unlawful evictions.

Remember that you have a federal legal right to file for bankruptcy.  No landlord can challenge that or take it away or discriminate against you for exercising your legal federal right to get a fresh start with our debts!  If the landlord is smart he will see that you can now pay rent more easily as you will have discharged your credit card, medical, deficiency balance, and other debts in the bankruptcy which will free up more income to pay for rent and your other necessities.  You may get a landlord that does not care or even is happy that you filed.

But either way don’t be intimidated by a landlord who threatens an eviction.  You can fight the eviction and win if the reason he is evicting you is because you filed for bankruptcy.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For more information please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!  If you are considering bankruptcy then get my Free e-book; “13 Things You Should D to Prepare For Filing Bankruptcy” by e-mailing me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Cash for keys! It’s still available after a foreclosure. My advice is get that cash!

(For the current state of the foreclosure crisis see this blog: http://bit.ly/JGU1dZ ).

How many times does someone hand you cash?  I’m sure it’s not often but it is the case that lenders are offering cash for keys after a foreclosure.  You may or may not be upset about the foreclosure and you may actually be relieved that the process is all over.  You may have tried a short sale that failed (or you may have never attempted one) and now the foreclosure sale has taken place and you are being contacted by the new owner of your property to find out from you what your plans are.

Remember that this new owner will have to evict you legally before he can get you out of this house that you formerly owned even though he is the new legal owner of the property.  He cannot throw you into the street.  There is no “self-help” allowed and the only way a new owner can get you out of your former home is through the eviction process.  You are no squatter.  You originally entered the property legally.   You are the former owner with the legal right to be there until a judge evicts you in court.

In California eviction means that the landlord has to give you a 3 day notice, followed by a filing of an unlawful detainer action, followed by a trial, followed by a sheriff who will actually remove you.  This all takes time and money.  To get you out will take around 4 to 6 weeks depending on how behind the courts and the sheriffs are.  In addition he has to hire attorneys, pay filing fees, and wait until the process finishes.

Or he can pay you money.  The going rate is about $3000 so don’t sell cheap.  Many of my clients have been offered and have received this money.  It will cost the landlord almost that much to proceed with and eviction plus there is the time involved.  The landlord may ask you to leave quickly (like in a week) but you can always try to negotiate for more time.  Just don’t scare him off so he doesn’t pay you.  Remember though that he will know the costs of legally removing you and that is your leverage.

You have a legal right to be in this home until he goes through the lengthy and costly legal process of removing you.  You can remind him of that if it helps the negotiations but always remember that you have legal rights.  If you don’t exercise them you will lose them.  You will be saving him time and money if you get out quickly with no hassles for $3000.

An extra $3000 can help a lot with bills and getting a new place.  If you can get more time then do so but if not then I suggest you take the money.

If you need a bankruptcy now to get rid of credit card or automobile deficiency or medical debt then call me and we will discuss how to free you up from the rest of your debt.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my website for more information at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!  If you or someone you know may need to file a bankruptcy get my FREE E-BOOK: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR OUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” by e-mailing me at: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

When squatters attack! Once they occupy your house you have to evict them (but you pay for them in the mean time).

(Check out my update on squatters here- http://bit.ly/Iyo3g4 ).

(For how to get squatters out of your property see here: http://bit.ly/JMX8kG ).

I am fascinated, perplexed and appalled by this ongoing problem of squatters.  It seems to point to bad things coming to this country (like a depression).

I thought I would blog about a squatters report that I saw on the news.  I wrote about this topic previously and the problem of squatters occupying foreclosed homes is certainly not going away.  In fact in some ways things may be getting worse out there with squatters.

Buyers of foreclosed homes are finding themselves paying insurance, taxes, and payments while the squatters occupy their house.  As I previously reported the squatters are probably not the previous owners of the home.  Those people have probably already gone.  The squatters are often people who move in after the foreclosure.  They find the vacant house, move in, occupy, and dare you to kick them out.

According to Fox News a family in Connecticut had squatters in their home after the family purchased the home in a foreclosure sale.  They went to move in and they found the squatters on the premises.  At that point they realized that they had become landlords and the squatters were their tenants except that these tenants paid no rent.  All they did was occupy and refuse to get out.

Before I did bankruptcy law I was doing landlord/tenant cases.  In California self-help is not allowed. You cannot kick squatters out without a court order and they become your tenants once they occupy the house.  They may even produce a phony rental agreement or they may say they had a verbal agreement with the previous owner.  Either way they stay until you evict them legally.

The police don’t want to get in the middle of what they consider to be a dispute between you and them.  If your lucky the squatters will take cash to leave and if you are not then you must got through the eviction system.  To evict them legally you need to serve a 3 day notice on them and then file an unlawful detainer action and then wait for a court date.  You need to win in court and then file a writ of possession and get a sheriff to kick them out.  All of this takes time.

In the Fox story the buyers could not move into their house after they bought it.  The bank had promised that they would evict these squatters yet they had not.  The family who bought the home had to wait for the sheriff to remove them.  When they interviewed the sheriff he told of how in the early morning the squatter was drunk, had a vicious dog that had to corralled, and he had a gun.

The sheriff did get them out but the evicted squatters left a horrible mess in the house.  The mom who bought the house said that she did not even want to move in at that point.

Be careful if you buy a foreclosed home.  Go to the home regularly before you close the deal to see who is occupying the house.  If you see signs of squatters make sure they are moved out before you close on the home and you become the owner. If you do not then you could become a landlord to some squatter who you would have to evict yourself.  This could take months and in the mean time you could be stuck paying taxes, insurance, and the house payment while the squatters live for free in your house.

These people know how to manipulate the system so don’t become the victim of this latest scam.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For more help please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Cash for keys after Bankruptcy and Foreclosure

If you have been in foreclosure before the bankruptcy then after you file and get the bankruptcy discharge your house could be sold at a foreclosure sale.  (Sometimes it happens before the discharge if the lender gets the bankruptcy stay lifted).  When the house is finally sold you will be contacted by the new owner who is usually the mortgage holder.  They will then ask you when you will leave.

At this point you need to enter into negotiations with them.  Be sure to tell them that you need rent money to rent a new place and you need moving money.  Remember, it is expensive to evict you.  They cannot throw you on the street.  They would have to give you a 3 day notice and then hire an attorney and file an eviction.  They would then have to go to Unlawful Detainer court and get a judgment and then a Sheriff to remove you.  All of that takes money and time.  You might not be out for another 2 months by that formula and then they would be out filing and attorney fees.

It is better for them and you if they negotiate a “cash for keys” where you leave in a reasonable time and they give you cash for it.  Get as much as you reasonable can.  I have heard stories of around $3000 sometimes for some lenders.  Negotiate with them and get the money and then move out.  After all it was your home and you should get something as you leave out the door!

Check out my websites for more info:  www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!  I am a bankruptcy attorney in San Diego.

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANBKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.