Why Does a Squatter Have So Many RIGHTS?

By
Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Okay, this is a vent...

I have a rental house in Alabama. The tenant hasn't paid her rent since August (she moved in the first of June). On top of unpaid rent, she owes me about $700 for the utilities she didn't put in her name and part of the deposit. So, at this point, she's in the hole to me for several thousand dollars.

Yes, the eviction papers have been filed - several weeks, maybe even over a month ago. But there she still lives, with her $60,000 Hummer sitting out in front. Rumor has it she has 7 dogs living on the property (she's "authorized" for two). But apparently, according to my lawyer, she can stay until the sheriff gets around to physically moving her, her Hummer and her seven dogs out.

HOW IS THIS FAIR???? Why does someone who has broken a contract, who is putting my property at risk, have the right to live there after she stops paying to live there????? Why does she have more rights than I do???

Someone explain to me how this makes sense. I just don't get it.

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Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

UPDATE - my squatter is still there... with her seven dogs and her $60,000 Hummer. The court date is in mid-November, so by that time she'll have been there over three months without paying rent. And, even if she loses in court (which she will), she'll still have appeal rights I'm told. My attorney told me that since Alabama passed their new tenant-friendly law in 2007, he's seeing this all over the place. BEWARE!!!

October 26, 2008 09:31 AM
Rainmaker
94,747
Pat Starnes
Pat Starnes Real Estate

Derek, you crack me up! Too funny about "taking care of" the problem! Jennifer, I, too, self-manage my rentals from a distance, and it can be a pain. I have filed a garnishment for past-due rent and am awaiting information from the court. Good luck! ~Pat

November 06, 2008 07:54 PM
Rainmaker
104,919
Brenda Harmon
Century 21 Beal, Inc College Station, Texas

Jennifer,

That is why I don't want to be a landlord.  Been there and done that.

I would recommend you watch the movie Pacific Heights with Melanie Griffith and Michael Keaton.

That will give a landlord nightmares.

November 09, 2008 09:50 PM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Okay - here's an update... it's just unbelievable (to me).

The court date was on Monday. She showed up and got on the stand and lied & cried & made crazy accusations as to why she hasn't paid rent in three months. My attorney said she looked like a drugged out white trash criminal and made a fool of herself. Apparently she got so distraught the judge threatened to bring in the sheriff and take her away. It sounded like something from My Cousin Vinny, only way more ridiculous.

She mentioned that she's declaring bankruptcy, which, I'm told, could let her stay in the house several more months if she files BK before the judge enters his judgement. Holy Crap. But assuming that doesn't happen, she definitely has to be out within 7 BUSINESS days (which gives her thru Thanksgiving, darn).

Just for fun, I googled her and found that two weeks ago she'd been arrested on 7 counts of felony something or other and was put in jail. Guess she posted bond and got out. Her husband is a Navy Seal, so my attorney told me to go after him via his commanding officer, so we'll see.

I have three rental properties in Alabama and as they come vacant (starting with this one), I'll be selling them. Alabama is NOT a friendly place for landlords!

Yep, she's a real winner.

November 19, 2008 07:37 AM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Update as of December 3rd...

Squatter still in property. Legally. The judge filed the final writ of eviction on December 2, a full two weeks after the trial date. Guess the $50 I'm paying per day she's living there isn't at all important to him. Now she has 7 business days to vacate - at which time I have to call the Sheriff's department AND a moving company to come move her out if she hasn't left yet.

But rumor has it that she's part way moved out and that the power has been shut off due to non-payment. And the good news - it's below freezing in Alabama this week!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!!!

My poor, beautiful, wonderful little house-in-the-country. I feel so bad for doing this to her. She deserves better.

December 03, 2008 06:38 PM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Doe Run

December 03, 2008 06:46 PM
Rainer
51,033
Christopher Bonta
Realtor, Integrity and Honesty
The Bean Group

Jennifer, I read your post with horror, OMG you have had one heck of a time with this person. It reminded me of the time back in the late 80's when I was doing Property Management.

I had a tenant at the Complex I managed who was not paying rent (this was in Mass), we had to give him a 15 day notice first, then after the 15th day file with the court for a hearing. Three weeks later we are in court (he now owed us 90 days rent if you included the current month). This guy stood in front of the judge with a $500.00 suite, rolex watch and other pieces of gold jewlery and told the judge (with a straight face) that he could not pay the rent right now. When the judge pressed him on why he could not do it, his explanation was that his money was tied up in his import/export business and he was expecting a large sum in about 2 weeks!!! The judge bought this explanation and gave the guy the time to pay!

Of course no money came, we had to refile for a court date. Once back in court (one month later and now being owed 4 months rent), the tenant was a no show, WOW what a surprise! The judge filed in our favor, it took a week for the paperwork to come through giving the tenant 7 days notice to vacate.

We finally got rid of this guy, his apartment was full of very expensive items too. To add insult to injury, Mass law required us to hold his belongings in storage for 6 months incase  the tenant came back to claim anything!!!!

December 04, 2008 07:33 AM
Rainmaker
577,729
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)

It is stories just like this one (and experiences with tennants of my fathers) that kept me from owning rental property... I still kick myself at times for not buying a few... But I would NEVER consider a long distance one like this... it just has to add to the headache, not being able to drive by and check on the house !!!  Good luck!

December 04, 2008 09:56 AM
Rainmaker
227,931
Linda Jandura
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist
Raleigh Cary Realty

Jennifer- we had several rental properties in San Diego. In Calif it's common to have just month to month leases,but we still had to evict 2 tenants in 10 years.  One was a mother with 2 teen age sons, and she had a boy friend living there, and it turns out spent most of her paycheck on drugs. We saw the evidence in her eyes and on the smoke marks on the walls & ceilings. We did get them evicted,met the sheriff at the house that morning and the locksmith. Kind of scary stuff as we had 2 little kids and lived just down the street. They had moved a lot of stuff out, but not everything, so we still  had a mess to clean up. We did get a judgment against her and her 2 sons plus another "friend" who was "staying there".  Of course we had to go to court to have the judgment  enforced, and then pay a law firm half the rent in fees to collect it, but it was worth it to make them pay up.

When we moved to NC, we decided NOT to be landlords! lol

Good luck with your tenants, we'll be rooting for you. And to the "concerned citizen" who wrote about no electric or plumbing- well, you have to PAY for those things yourself, not expect your landlord to do it. If the house has mold- move out!

Again, we're on the same theme of people not taking responsibiliity for their own actions, but blaming all their problems on someone else - in this case, the landlord.

December 04, 2008 05:47 PM
Rainmaker
94,747
Pat Starnes
Pat Starnes Real Estate

Jennifer, I can relate with you and your tenant issues. Please find my post today regarding my tenant taking me to court to get a judgement dismissed and let me know what you think about my rights. ~Pat

December 09, 2008 06:47 PM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

UPDATE 12/10 - today's the day! The sheriff is meeting my property manager at the house in about an hour. I'm pretty sure she's completely out, but I'm anxiously waiting to hear what the place looks like... stay tuned!

December 10, 2008 08:16 AM
Rainmaker
497,115
Susan Haughton, REALTOR Alexandria VA Homes for Sale

I'll be thinking about you today!  Please keep us posted...hopefully it's better than you expect.

You know, we had a tenant-from-hell this summer and I spent many sleepless nights over it...despite everything, at the end of the day, although we had one unholy mess, it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it would be.  Don't get me wrong, it was putrid, but we got it cleaned up eventually, got it rented right away and it wasn't worth the sleepless nights. I hope yours is okay, too.

December 10, 2008 11:37 AM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Well, she was out when the sheriff showed up with my property manager... but yesterday she came back and broke in after we changed the locks... sigh...

December 12, 2008 05:40 AM
Anonymous #38
Anonymous
waptek
i have been a tennant that was unfairly evicted and the victem of DOZENS of bad tennants that should be shot! ,,, so i agree with the landlords,,, sorry for the bad ones but i wish the law just favored the least annoying one
December 29, 2008 01:44 AM
Ambassador
983,161
Alan May
Evanston & Northshore of Chicago real estate
Coldwell Banker Residential

... and yet another valid reason why being a landlord is not for the timid.

December 30, 2008 12:42 PM
Rainmaker
206,854
Mary Strang
Real Estate

Jennifer, I think I saw that movie once but that rental house was in San Francisco... very scary for you. I think the laws were made back when tenants were the victims now they certainly are not... guess onces she is out, you might just not want to rent that anymore and might choose to sell it. Worse is to be in the business and get sucked in by a bad person. Best of luck on this for 2009!!!!

December 31, 2008 08:13 AM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

I finally got into the house and it was in surprisingly good condition. Filthy, but no damage - not stinky - didn't even need paint! The house went on the market on Monday, so we'll see what happens!

December 31, 2008 08:17 AM
Rainmaker
250,466
Joel Weihe
Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits
Realty World Alliance

Whew, what a story!  We've looked at getting some rentals with the high rental demand right now, but I will definitely be checking the tenant/landlord laws here very very thoroughly!

January 16, 2009 08:44 PM
Anonymous #43
Anonymous
Lisa B.

Wow ~ and the story continues, just with another sucker Landlord (ME!) and a squatter that knows the system in AL is now in her 2nd month of "free" rent while My hubby works 2 jobs to cover the extra expenses of the rental.  I am appalled at the system in Alabama!  I finally filed for her eviction last Wednesday in court, after giving her her notice, then waiting while she "played us" for a month .. I will have the $/No not yet/yada, yada.  The civil court she would not get served until the first of this week sometime.  Called Monday - NO, and today - NO.... A week since I filed and she HAS NOT EVEN BEEN SERVED by our friendly Sheriff!  I am SO naive, as I thought they were here to help the good guys!  Once she does get served, she still has 7 days to do whatever, and per the court, if she doesn't leave, she can request a court hearing and they only hold eviction hearings once a month, so the date on that would depend on when she answers.  If she does neither, then it's back on my shoulders to go back to the court, pay MORE $, and then they will give her ANOTHER 14 days to do whatever.  Of course, if she wants to go to trial/hearing, she can wait til the 14th day (after her initial 7, and I refile and the courts send it to our ever so friendly and helpful sheriff and it takes him however long) and then we would have to wait til the trial... HELP, HELP, HELP!  It's not even like she would be out on the street.  She's a grown woman, her mother lives less than 1 mile away, and her aunt is nearby (why she wanted to rent our place - to be near family!).  We offered to put her on a payment plan, release her from her lease - just leave, etc.  I'm with totally FRUSTRATED and am glad to find this blog (even though its older) just to vent and know I'm not in this completely alone!   

May 06, 2010 01:09 AM
Rainmaker
432,058
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Lisa - I'm SO sorry and I know what you're going thru. I couldn't believe how lenient the "system" was on this horrible woman who took advantage of me. I have a judgment against her for $5900, but was told by a local collector that she has over $90,000 in judgments against her already, so good luck collecting.

Speaking of the system in Alabama... I am suing another renter in small claims court and the local sheriff couldn't find the house to serve them, so he just sent the notice back. I had to re-file three times and send him a detailed map to the house (it's NOT hard to find!) in order to get the process even started.

May 06, 2010 03:33 PM
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Rainmaker
432,058

Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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