Avoid home squatters. Enforce Vacant Property Registration Ordinance

By
Real Estate Agent with Alain Pinel BRE 01367196

On the news last night and today is about squatters in an upscale part of Oakland, in the hills. The headline said “Squatters bring crime wave to Oakland Hills”.

 

The squatters took over a home going through foreclosure. The owner had taken a reverse mortgage on it, and when her husband passed away, she went into a nursing home. Since the home was vacant, it attracted squatters who moved in and refused to leave. One said she had invested time and money and sweat, and she's not leaving unless she gets paid!

 

in the meantime, the police have arrested suspects at the house, and recovered stolen cars. One is being investigated for identity theft.

 

It seems to me the City of Oakland could have done something more --- after all, they have their VPRO (Vacant Property Registration Ordinance) in effect since 2012.

 

And there are serial squatters.

 

Besides the story about the squatters, some questions are bubbling up in my mind:

 

  • Does the owner have any relatives who could have moved in, or taken care of the house instead of leaving it vacant

  • Couldn’t the owner have sold the property as a short sale

  • Were neighbors aware of the owner’s predicament, being an older woman who could no longer live alone, and as such could they have offered help

  • Did the neighbors report trespassers before the squatters could “settle in”?

  • Could a Neighborhood Watch program help prevent this from happening?

 

Vacant homes spell trouble. This is why some cities have VPRO --- Vacant Property Registration Ordinance.

 

Here’s a dynamic link to take you to your state to see what is in effect.  This also provides resources on what to do to get one enacted in case your city doesn’t have it yet.

 

I’m happy to see that Alameda’s VPRO is in effect.


There’s a house on our block that is also vacant when the owner went into a nursing home. However, in her case, her nephew and niece are taking care of the house, making sure the grass is mowed, and checking on it quite regularly. Neighbors know about the situation and are keeping a close watch on it to make sure no one trespasses.

However, let us remember that owners have to take responsibility for ensuring that their vacant property doesn't invite crime. Here's BankRate's 5 Rules for the Empty House Next Door.

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vacant property registration ordinance
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Ambassador
2,982,822
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

A neighborhood watch may have noticed...or a nosy neighbor.  I love nosy neighbors.

Jul 10, 2015 09:53 AM #1
Rainmaker
2,444,161
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Pacita - This is very good information to prevent home squatters live in vacant properties.

Jul 10, 2015 10:59 AM #2
Rainmaker
709,142
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Chris Ann Cleland --- I think the people in that neighborhood just never thought it could happen there....or maybe they kept to themselves so much they never noticed when the widow had to move out. Sad that it happened to her and her property.

 

John Pusa --- glad you found this useful.

Jul 10, 2015 05:08 PM #3
Rainmaker
380,623
Katina Hargrove 352-551-0308
Stake Your Land Realty, Inc. - Eustis, FL
Broker/Owner, GRI,SFR, Realtor

Pacita,

It is interesting that squatters have more rights than home owners. I have a current seller who is in the process of evicting a squatter. I did not see my city or county on the list, who can file the application?

Jul 11, 2015 02:36 AM #4
Rainmaker
709,142
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Katina Hargrove -- check the link to Fast Track Legislation Resource Center. Maybe you can find the answer there, or at least know whom to ask. CLICK HERE

Jul 11, 2015 01:03 PM #5
Rainmaker
2,231,436
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

It's all about "adverse possession," here in California.  If squatters are found to be in a property, they need to be vacated ASAP.

Jul 11, 2015 02:32 PM #6
Rainmaker
709,142
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Myrl Jeffcoat --- very recently, there were two highly publicized incidents in the Bay area:

Squatters bring crime wave to Oakland Hills

Bay Area Serial Squatter Evicted for the 8th Time this time in Daly City.

Jul 11, 2015 03:09 PM #7
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Rainmaker
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Pacita Dimacali

Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
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