Squatters are a problem.
One of my friends is the buyer's agent for a beautiful home in Bayport community in Alameda CA. The home was vacant and beautifully staged. Because the buyer is about to close escrow on the property, the stager went back to the house and encountered people living in it. Squatters!
One of the squatters was playing games on his phone, had his feet propped up on the dining room table. He was startled when the stager came in, and he ran out the door, followed by other squatters who were at the house with him. One of the squatters was even grilling outdoors when they were discovered.
The police were summoned, and they caught one of the squatters.
Squatters break in, steal, and move in
Turned out that to get in, the squatters smashed the back door. And they then went to another property for sale in the neighborhood, removed a back door to replace the one they broke. Then they moved in. When the neighbors were asked why they didn't report the squatters, they said they thought the squatters were the new owners.
As for the grill....it was determined that it was one that was reported missing from another staged home at a neighboring new development Cadence at Alameda Landing.
What can we do?
This underlines the importance of the following:
- The listing agent and/or seller (if seller is still in town) should periodically check on the property
- Neighbors should be alerted if the house is vacant and staged. If possible, request next door neighbors to report suspicious activity
- Neighborhood Watch --- if there isn't one, perhaps one should be created?
It's a huge problem in other cities, too.
Finding squatters is one thing. Evicting them is another. How many stories have we read where squatters claim to have leases to rent their place, and the police cannot evict them until the dispute is handled through a civil process?
Here are just a few.....
Better brush up on Adverse Possession