Squatters May Be Taking Over Your Home!

Real Estate Agent with International Properties and Investments LLC

Squatters May Be Taking Over Your Properties

If you have moved out of your property because you relocated out of the area or if you moved into a rental already because you are doing a short sale be aware that you may have opened up your property to squatters. south florida squatters

In one of our vacant short sale listings in Port St Lucie Florida- our sellers had to move closer to their jobs in Miami due to loss of income. They could no longer afford to pay for the gas to drive all those miles to and from work. So they rented a house close to the husband's work in Miami and called us to do a short sale on their property in Port St Lucie. They had it listed prior to calling us with buyowner.com who did not have a clue on how to do a short sale. Needless to say, we had to clean up the mess. 

When we arrived to take photos of the vacant property we were met with a strong smell of pot. It was fresh. All over the house, there was evidence that squatters were living there or it could have become a teenage hang out to get high. We secured the house, called the locksmith to change the locks and bolted down the windows. However, no matter what the sellers and we did the squatters kept getting in. They even had power because one of the terms of our listing agreement is that sellers must leave their water and power. 

This is happening more and more to our vacant listings. Sometimes we scare them away and sometimes we don't. A word of caution to agents- don't check on your vacant listings alone. Bring someone with you and be prepared to find anything. 

There are squatters here in south Florida who are actually occupying vacant properties and telling the owners that they refuse to move out because they have a right to occupy the house because it was abandoned. 

Here in Wellington Florida a man filed notice in the official county records that he was taking possession of 1000 homes in Broward county and 3 in Palm Beach County. He also took over 10 condos in North Lauderdale. He then rented out 6 of them and collected over $20,000 in rent. He was arrested but is pleading not guilty. His attorney says that he is a good samaritan and is saving these blighted homes. 

Well, let's see. Condos are not blighted unless the HOA stops paying for services. So that is not likely going to wash for him in court. Also, the other properties depending on where they are located are mostly in good condition. All of our vacant short sale listings are in very good condition and ready to move into when we sell the properties to qualified buyers who actually get loans to buy their houses or pay all cash.  On the other hand, we see a ton of rentals in bad shape because the tenants are not maintaining the properties. After all, they don't own the property. 

The squatters and the people taking over multiple properties through these filings are using the "adverse possession" law that is dated back to 16th century England. Here in Florida, adverse possession can take place if the person using adverse possession pays the taxes, maintains the property and lives in the property or uses the property for a period of seven years. 

This law is usually used here when there is an encroachment on one property from a neighbor, such as a fence. 

But the other side of this coin is that you can not just break into a house and start living there without the probability of being arrested for trespassing. It is also illegal to collect rent money though trespassing. 

Many homeowners live in their homes without getting foreclosed on and without making payments for up to 3 years but it is not likely that the bank will not foreclose within 7 years. 
So the seven year rule is not likely going to be successful in court. 

Be on the look out, protect your property rights. Pay your property taxes before they are delinquent, pay your HOA fees on time and try to stay in your property until your short sale is accepted by your lender. These issues can cloud your title which will make it very difficult to close on your property. 

Homeowners have choices. Maybe a strategic short sale is the right option for you. It is most often better than just leaving the keys on the table and walking away. 

Don't Delay! Don't Wait Until The Sheriff Is Knocking On Your Door! Pick up your phone and call us to see if you can avoid foreclosure.



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Comments 51 New Comment

Nestor & Katerina Gasset
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale
International Properties and Investments LLC

Gene- Well, that theory did not work out too well in the Soviet Union or in Cuba. 

June 21, 2010 11:57 AM
Jenna Dixon
Assoc Broker, NW Metro Atlanta
DRA Homes (Atlanta, GA)

Katerina & Nestor,

Thank you for reading my clarification.  I have a great deal of respect for you and the way that you run your business and share so much great information (including about coupons) here in the Rain.

Have a wonderful week.

June 21, 2010 11:58 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Turning Houses into Homes
Home Point Real Estate


I am far from a Red.  The development and settling of America was done with Land Grants of public land and there were requirements for getting the land.  You had to live on it and use it.

I do not like the situation we are in and I do not like the bank bailouts.  My point is the Banks have taken from the public trough and are essentially owned by the government now, even though they claim they paid back the TARP funds.

I think the government wants to control the housing market through the banks and ultimately put us all in public housing.  Having banks or government agencies rent out the houses.  The government and the banks are trying to contol the market and are not moving the homes back into the private segment fast enough. 

What I am saying is Bank Owned/Public Owned property not being used and becoming a blight should be open to some sort of homesteading.  This will also encourage the banks to move the property back to the private segment.

You may disagree with me but please don't put me in the same boat with the Reds.  I am far from it and it hurts.

June 21, 2010 05:37 PM
Nestor & Katerina Gasset
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale
International Properties and Investments LLC

Gene- I know you are not red. I send you an email. 

You are right, the gov't does want to own it all and have us all pay our rent to them. That is why private property rights are being diminished more and more with each passing administration and will continue until only the elite own housing. It did not work anywhere else in the world and it won't work here. And I pray that people will get off their couches and do something about it rather than be the good sheeple the schools have taught them to be. 

June 21, 2010 08:14 PM
Carrie Sampron
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R
Home Smart Realty Group

You are so right!  We showed a condo last year that the listing office told us was "vacant".  When we walked in with our client it was clearly not vacant, however, it also was evident the homeowner was not the one living there.  The power and water were both turned off and the individual "living" there was using a camp stove to heat their food.  We left immediately and called the listing agent to notify him of this issue.  Wow, what an experience. Carrie

June 23, 2010 06:00 PM

Nestor & Katerina Gasset

Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale
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