I have been in real estate for 20 years as a real estate agent, broker, and investor. Over those years I have had some crazy experiences as many people see on my YouTube channel. I have dealt with evictions, squatters, foreclosures, break-ins, meth labs, stolen vehicles, wanted murderers, and more. Luckily, I am still here to tell the stories (knock on wood) and hopefully, I will be around a lot longer to keep telling them! I don’t want to turn people off from real estate because this is not the norm for most people. I get myself in some situations because of the type of real estate I was involved in and the properties I buy.
This is part 3 of this series.
Squatters move into one of my apartments
I bought the Ocho, an 8 plex with 16 garages, a little over a year ago. I thought this property was going to be one of my easier properties to manage and maintain but I was mistaken. We have had 2 evictions, squatters, a missing tenant, break-ins, police stand-offs, and a stabbing just at this one property!
At the Ocho, we had a tenant whose lease was up and had some issues with late rent and cleanliness but nothing serious. We told her we would not be renewing her lease after the term was up and she was fine with that since she was planning to move as well.
She moved out and let us know she was going to be gone early. We said greater and asked for the keys to the apartment. She said she couldn’t give those to us yet because her sister-in-law was cleaning it and moving out some stuff still. I guess maybe she wasn’t really moving out early.
Her saying the apartment would be empty but not giving us the keys went on for a week or so and we started to get suspicious. I stopped by the property and the sister-in-law answered the door and said she was just finishing up the cleaning. She said she would be out the next day. The sister-in-law never called or text me and the next time I talked to the tenant, she said the sister-in-law should no longer be there, and that everyone should be out.
Below is the property when I first bought it:
Time to start the eviction
I text the sister-in-law a few times with no response so I stopped by again to talk in person. She was there and said she was just finishing up and would be out soon… I had heard all of this before from other tenants and knew she would not be out soon. This time when she answered the door there was another lady with her, so there were at least two people who appeared to be living in the apartment.
My project manager and I decided to start an eviction a week or so before this just in case she wouldn’t leave and since no one had paid the last month’s rent. The previous tenant claimed she gave money to her sister-in-law to pay and the sister-in-law claimed she gave money to the previous tenant to pay. Don’t worry, the tenant said she would be out for sure the next day! To start the eviction we post a notice to pay or quit, which is free for us to do. If we have to go through with the eviction, we send that notice and pictures of it posted to our lawyer, and then the free part disappears. Since it appeared she was not going to leave we gave our lawyers the go-ahead to start the eviction.
In these situations, it is usually better to get someone out ASAP by any means possible. I told her I would give her $200 if she was out the next day and gave me the keys. She agreed and said she would text me when she was out so we could meet at the property to do the exchange. This is often called cash for keys.
The real trouble begins
I showed up the next day and saw a lot of people going in and out of the apartment but not the sister-in-law and no one I had seen before. I waited in my truck for a few minutes and text the sister-in-law to see if she was going to meet me. She responded and said she had moved out and was already out of town. I asked her who was at the apartment and she said she had no idea.
I saw at least four people going in and out so I decided I needed to talk to them. I had my phone out to record video and held it down in my hand so I could maybe get some visual and audio without them knowing I was filming (this is legal in Colorado). I walked up and a guy greeted me right away who was covered in facial tattoos. He knew my name and was waiting for me to show up.
He started telling me he lived in the apartment and that the previous tenant was his ex-girlfriend. He said the electricity was in his name and he lived there now and they had been approved for covid assistance to pay the rent. He claimed someone in my office told him he could stay and we had already been paid and wasn’t leaving. I told him none of that was true. When I asked for details about the covid assistance I could tell he had never applied or had any idea how the program worked.
It turns out the sister-in-law who was there before was this guy’s sister. He never threatened me but he told me how he just got stabbed and jumped. He showed me a massive cut on his arm that was taped shut (obviously not by a doctor) but said he couldn’t go to the hospital. He mentioned something about not trusting hospitals… Then another couple came out of the apartment saying they just moved in. An older couple had walked up too and they were the parents of the guy I was talking to and his sister. They stood outside for a while but the guy I was talking to said they didn’t speak English and not to worry about them.
Squatters had taken up residence
The couple who came out of the apartment was nice for about 30 seconds before I told them they could not stay. They said they wouldn’t leave and they lived there now even though they had no money for rent or a lease. They said they had jobs and could start paying rent right away. They had no connection to the previous tenant or the sister-in-law but knew this guy who was talking to me.
I told them I’d give them $300 to leave today. They said that wasn’t enough that they had nowhere to go and that wouldn’t even pay for a hotel. I said I thought they had money to pay for rent but now they can’t pay for a hotel even with an extra $300. They replied that they hadn’t been paid for their job yet, and that would be next week.
We argued back and forth and I was considering calling the police when a lady came to post the official eviction notice that came with a court date. The squatters read the notice and got all excited because the date was a week away and they thought that meant they got to stay for sure. I could have called the cops then and should have but it was a Friday evening and I didn’t want to wait for the police who may be there in 5 minutes or 90 minutes. With that notice in hand, my assumption was the police would not do anything and say it is a civil manner.
Was I in danger with the squatters?
I didn’t think I was in danger but I was very wary of where they were standing and a couple of times I felt the couple was trying to circle behind me a little. The older couple also were standing behind me or in their car which was behind me. I moved a few times to make sure they were all in front of me the whole time.
I had also asked if I could see inside the apartment when I first got there and they said no. Later on, they said I could look inside after they had moved some things out or had hidden them. I told them no I didn’t need to go inside. I had asked that question to see what they would say, not because I wanted to be in the 2 bedroom apartment with at least 4 other people who I didn’t know and who were not very friendly.
Another very strange thing was the guy with the tattoos then started telling me he knew me and knew I had fancy cars and knew my office was broken into and knew who did it. He said he knew someone who worked in my office and things got pretty weird.
I think he was trying to build rapport but it wasn’t working. I questioned him more about the break-in at my office which had happened a month before and he said he didn’t really know the guys he just knew the truck they used since it was all over Facebook. When I questioned him more about the person working in my office he admitted didn’t really know the person in my office well at all either. The big surprise was that most of the things he said were wrong or he made them up. I even ended up calling the person who worked at my office and the ex-tenant who both confirmed they never said the things this guy was saying.
An unhappy encounter ends
I ended up leaving and was very angry about the situation because they were living there for free with no lease and I could not believe the eviction notice was posted at that exact time! The couple said some choice words to me as I left and they felt they had “won” the battle. I knew they may have won this round, but not the war.
An even more frustrating thing that happened was the court date came a week later. I usually do not go because my lawyer handles it all. After court, the lawyer called me and said the guy who I talked to (the ex) showed up to court and said he had nowhere to go and the judge granted another hearing! I could not believe it. He had no lease and never paid but the judge gave him a hearing in two weeks.
I got ready for that hearing and planned to attend court but luckily I could do it virtually. My lawyer and I prepared a little and he gave me some questions the judge might ask me and suggested to me how they should be answered. We showed up to court and the squatter never showed up. The judge ruled in our favor and we could finally evict.
Eventually, the eviction date came a couple of weeks later and 2 months after the tenant moved out we evicted them. I thought for sure they would move out before the eviction but they were there and would not answer the door for the police. Eventually, they opened up and they moved a few things out and we move the rest of their stuff to the yard. They all gave me some dirty looks during the eviction but didn’t say anything to me. I didn’t see the couple who was there before but there were even more people living there. Some other tenants had been complaining there were more and more people moving in a few days prior to the eviction.
Looking back on this I feel we should have just been able to have the police kick them out without the eviction. I asked the police, sheriff, and lawyer, if we could just kick them out for being squatters and they all gave me different answers that basically said they didn’t want any part of it and to do the eviction.
I have seen that guy walking around the neighborhood around the property but I have not talked to him again. No one has messed with the building which we were worried about as well. Was I in danger? I don’t know for sure but I sure wish I had a few people with me when the first encounter with them was happening. I tried to keep my distance and a visual on everyone as well as stay outside within sight of the neighbors or other tenants.
I have a book that goes over more than 20 other crazy real estate stories I have been a part of on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Insane-Stories-Estate-Entrepreneur-ebook/dp/B09SVXMTRK
5 Times I Was in Danger as a Real Estate Investor – part 4: Murderer at my property
5 Times I Was in Danger as a Real Estate Investor – part 2: 500 Tire Eviction
5 Times I Was in Danger as a Real Estate Investor – part 1 Threatened with a gun