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.