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Evictions & Crazy Stories

How to Get Rid of Squatters

We have all seen horror stories on the news or social media when a squatter moves into a vacant house or rental property and the unlucky owners cannot get rid of them. That happened to me and it was not a fun time. Luckily it provided some great content for my YouTube channel which helped offset the cost of those squatters. I was also fortunate that I did not have to deal with the squatters for years or even more than 6 months as many people do. How long it takes to get rid of squatters can depend on the state, county, or town you reside in. While I was able to get rid of the squatters, I could have done a few things differently that may have forced them out sooner.

How did I get squatters?

I own an 8-unit apartment building that I call the Ocho. I bought this property a couple of years ago and it came with some tenants who were not amazing. One of those tenants had been behind on rent a few times and caused some other issues so we decided not to renew their lease. That tenant said they were planning to move out of state so it worked out for everyone, or so we thought.

Below is the actual eviction

We gave them notice and about 20 days later they said they would be out and would drop off the keys. Those keys never showed up. We called a few times and we got the same story. They were almost done moving out and would have keys to us soon. The keys never showed up and then the story from the tenant changed. They said they were all moved out but their sister was at the house cleaning for a day. She claimed the sister would drop off the keys soon. I knew this story was not going to end well.

I stopped by the property and talked to the “sister” who was at the property. There was also another lady and maybe more people in the apartment and they did not look like they were cleaning. They said they would be out the next day and would drop off the keys. Big surprise they did not show up so I stopped by the apartment again to see what was going on and I got the same story. Luckily we had already posted a stay or quit notice when the first tenant had said they were bringing keys and never did because they never paid rent for the next month after they were supposed to have moved.

I knew the sister was not going to leave but evictions are expensive and we try to avoid them. I told her I would pay her $200 if she could be out by the end of the week. She agreed and said she would be out and get us the keys. That day came and she said she was out so I stopped by the property. To my surprise, she was out! However, there were at least three new people in the apartment who I had never seen before.

I was hesitant to talk to them because they did not look like they wanted to talk to me but I really wanted them out. I walked over and one of them came out of the apartment. He claimed to be the ex-boyfriend of the original tenant and said the “sister” was his sister and not related to the tenant. He claimed he had moved in because he used to live here with the original tenant and the electric bill was in his name. However, he was never on the lease and we had never seen him or talked to him before. He also showed me a massive cut on his arm he said he got from being stabbed recently but decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital so he taped it shut.

I told him he couldn’t stay and he needed to leave. He gave me all kinds of stories like he approved to get rent money from COVID funds, he said he talked to my office and they said he could stay, and he said his ex said he could be there. None of these stories checked out. I even called the ex who he claimed told him he could stay and asked her about it. She confirmed no one should be there and one reason she is moving out of state is this guy. Some other people came out of the apartment and said they would start paying rent too and had jobs but they hadn’t been paid yet. Even if they had money, I would never take it as that could constitute a lease!

It was clear they were not going to leave. Unfortunately, while I was talking to them the server for the eviction came by and posted the notice that said they had another ten days until the court date for the eviction. They all thought that meant they could stay! I thought about calling the cops and I should have even though they may not have done anything in this situation. Technically they were trespassing but they also had the keys and cops tend to try to stay out of these situations.

I decided to leave and pursue the eviction since it was coming up.

The eviction hearing

I always use an attorney to handle all of my evictions because I have tried it on my own and I never fill out the paperwork right and it costs me more time and money than an attorney would have cost me. I let my attorney take care of it and waited for him to tell me when the eviction date would be. I got a call from the attorney and he said the eviction was not granted! I could not believe it. He said the squatters showed up to the hearing which was a Zoom call because of covid and the judge granted them a 30-day extension because “they had nowhere to go”.

Looking back on this I should have gone to the hearing. I do not know if it would have helped but I could have told the story and what happened and maybe the judge would not have made that decision. As it was, I now had to wait 30 days or hope they moved out which they were not going to do. I drove by all the time and saw more people in and around the unit. I wanted them out so bad, not just because I feared they were destroying the place but because of the other tenants in the building as well.

Another eviction hearing

I showed up to the next hearing and my attorney and I waited for the judge who hopped on the Zoom call about 10 minutes late. The squatters were not on the call. The judge made us wait another 15 minutes for them to show and he seemed disappointed that they never did. He finally ruled the eviction would proceed since they did not show up. We finally got the eviction scheduled with the sheriff for three weeks out.

Time drug on for what seemed like forever and the eviction day finally came. I showed up with my crew because Colorado requires ten people to be there so they can move everything out in an hour. The sheriff’s deputies serve the notice and make sure everyone is safe. I know the deputies and they are really cool. I could not tell if the squatters were still there but I would think they wouldn’t be because I was guessing they didn’t want any contact with law enforcement.

I was wrong! They were still there and it took them 15 minutes to answer the door. The deputies talked to them and they had not moved anything out. We all decided to give them 10 minutes to move what they could and then we would move the rest. I got in the property and it was dirty but thankfully not destroyed. The tenants moved their stuff into their car and left. I never saw them again. The rest of the stuff we left in the yard for 24 hours per Colorado law and disposed of after that.

This could have been much worse based on what I see in other states but it was still frustrating waiting months for the eviction and not getting any rent.

Another squatter eviction we did:

How to get squatters out

There are a few things I could have done better and some things others can do to avoid long squatter situations as well.

  1. If you have vacant properties check on them often! A vacant property is a target for squatters and vandalism.
  2. If you see someone on your property who should not be there call the police immediately. The police may or may not do anything but you still need to try. Some squatters may not want police contact and may leave if they come. The police may say it’s a civil matter or not their problem but remind them it is trespassing and illegal. If you let squatters stay too long without reporting them it makes it much more difficult to get rid of them.
  3. If there are squatters with no lease, create a document stating the people in the property have no lease and no permission to be in the property. Get this statement notarized and bring it with a copy of the Deed showing the true owner does not have any lease with the squatters in case the squatters provide a fake lease.
  4. If you think something fishy is going on with your tenants, schedule an inspection. Most leases should have a clause that the landlord can inspect the property with notice. If they won’t let you in, that could be grounds for eviction.
  5. If tenants are not paying or are supposed to leave and not leaving, start the eviction process as soon as possible.
  6. In extreme situations, you can try offering cash for keys, or money for them to move. Never pay them before they are out and give you the keys.
  7. Be careful accepting any money or rent as that could give them legal grounds to stay even if they do not have a formal lease.
  8. If an eviction hearing is scheduled it doesn’t hurt to show up yourself to give insight into the situation. Just don’t lose your cool or make it worse.
  9. Don’t do anything illegal like bring enforcers to physically remove people. Talk to an attorney and check state laws to make sure you don’t give the judge or squatters a reason to stay.
  10. If you are in a really tricky situation with state laws and police who will not help, turn to social media or neighbors. Tell your story and the more attention you get, the more likely you can get your situation resolved. Again, stay within the law, stay calm, and don’t make it worse.
  11. Be careful about rekeying properties or trying to force them out on your own.

Conclusion

A lot of people think that because they own the property they can do whatever they want, however, that is not the case. When you rent to someone or give them permission to be in the property they have gained rights to that property. If they live there they are in possession of the property and you cannot simply force them to move or rekey the property. Be sure to talk to a lawyer and check with state laws when you encounter a situation like this. Each state has different laws and eviction processes so just because you see someone else do it, doesn’t make it legal. I hope you never have to encounter a situation like this but if you do act fast and don’t give up!

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