News 5 Investigates first showed you back in September how squatters legally took over a man’s house while he was out of town.
Roland Hawkins had to file an eviction to get his house back and the court process took weeks.
However, one homeowner was able to successfully get a squatter out of her home much faster without having to file eviction paperwork. At the advice of her attorney, she filed a protection order which worked.
“Clearly there is a gap in the law and it’s outrageous,” Rep. Dave Williams (R) said after watching our original investigation on squatters. “We are going to draft language up that closes these loopholes and punishes these criminal squatters for damaging the lives of taxpayers and homeowners.”
Sen. Bob Gardner (R) is also outraged by what we uncovered.
“Legislatively, we need to do something and we need to find the right solution and that’s what we are set out to do,” Gardner said.
Pueblo homeowner Patricia Carter is now the third person we’ve spoken with about squatting issues.
“He pretty much treated it like it was his house and I was an intruder in my own house,” she said. “It was just crazy.”
Carter says she called police to remove the man, but claims police asked her to leave to keep the peace.
“I had to stay in a hotel for 3 nights,” Carter said. “I had to take my dogs to a kennel and he was allowed to stay here in the house.”
Carter claimed the squatter was verbally abusive and even threatened to give her a “reality check” when she asked him to leave.
Carter also claims the squatter keyed her Hummer that she parked in her driveway.
Her attorney advised her to take out a protection order. As soon as the order was approved, the squatter left voluntarily.
Sen. Gardner and Rep. Williams are both looking into better ways to address squatting situations.
“California created a system where if you’re gone for an extended period of time, you can register the property with the sheriff’s office and that way if someone moved into your residence, the sheriff would then know and be able to evict immediately,” Gardner said.
In Nevada, the second squatting offense is a felony–punishable by up to 4 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Gardner says he wants to create a bill that would allow law enforcement the authority to remove people who do not have a valid lease or do not own the home they are living in. Currently, homeowners must take these people to court.
“The homeowners are out for weeks having to evict these squatters and then have to fix up their homes after squatters damaged it and that prevents future tenants and renters from actually being able to find a place to live,” Rep. Williams added.
Gardner and Williams say they expect some opposition to their bill from tenant’s rights groups. That’s because some squatting situations originated from a bad landlord-tenant relationships.
Defining a squatter:
According to Dictionary.com, a squatter is someone who settles on a piece of land or property without title, right, or payment of rent.
Different types of squatting situations:
Example 1) Homeless people or random individuals with no connection to the property owner enter their residence and move their belongings inside.
Example 2) Squatters are known to the property owner and at one point, had a valid lease and then cut off all communication and stopped paying rent after the lease expired.
Example 3) Homeowner invites a friend or family member inside their home and allows them to stay there temporarily. The homeowner then requests the individuals leave the property, but they refuse.
Understanding the current eviction process for squatters:
The eviction process for squatters works much like the eviction process for tenants who sign a lease at an apartment complex.
Homeowners or property owners must file formal eviction paperwork in court. After the paperwork is filed, a hearing is scheduled.
If a judge rules in your favor, you must go back a few days later and obtain what’s called a “Writ of Restitution”.
After that document is obtained, the sheriff’s office is notified and schedules an eviction. The exact eviction date will depend on the case load at the time.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.
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