Squatters take over a Pueblo woman’s home and refuse to leave. Sound like a familiar case?
As News 5 Investigates has reported, police often can’t do anything about these situations until homeowners evict the squatters. Lawmakers are hoping to change that next year with new legislation that will offer more protections for homeowners dealing with squatting situations. The final touches are being put on the bill this week. As soon as we have a copy of the bill, we’ll share it with you.
Myrtis Johnson is yet another homeowner dealing with a squatting situation.
“They (squatters) are living there for free without permission, without signing anything, without paying anything,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty darn ridiculous that we have laws to protect them.”
Johnson owns a duplex on Belmont Avenue in Pueblo. After a tenant moved out of her duplex last month, Johnson says as many as 3 people she’s never seen before moved in.
“I don’t know either one of them,” Johnson said.
What’s even more infuriating is that Johnson says when she went to take back her property, the squatters posted a set of rules on the front door. You can view a photograph of those rules here.
Johnson gave News 5 permission to enter her home to try and get the squatters to voluntarily leave after she says police told her they were unable to do anything without an eviction.
We knocked on the door and were quickly intercepted by one squatter who was sitting in her car outside when we pulled up.
Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross asked, “Do you live here?”
“No, my friend does,” the woman replied. “I was actually staying with her.”
Ross asked, “Who are you?”
“My name is Autumn,” the woman replied.
Ross asked, “Do you have a lease for this duplex?”
“I do not,” she said.
Since “Autumn” was not inside the duplex at the time we arrived, we shifted our focus to the person who was and knocked on the door for a second time.
No one opened up, so we used the key.
Ross yelled, “Hello! Anyone home?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” a woman inside replied. “What are you doing?”
Ross asked, “Who are you?”
The woman responded, “Do you have a lease?”
“Yes I do,” she said.
Ross asked, “Can I see it?”
The squatter had every excuse in the books as to why she couldn’t produce a valid lease or key, but she certainly knew the law.
“The eviction has not been done yet so once they go to court, then that can happen,” the woman said. “There’s a court date set. The person is going to go to the court date and it’s going to be handled from there. That’s how legal proceedings go.”
Ross asked, “So you’re not going to leave until the court says you have to leave. Is that what you’re telling me?”
“No, I’m not saying that,” the woman said. “I’m gathering my belongings and getting out of here.”
Johnson says the squatters originally moved out after we left, but then moved back in that night after nobody showed up to evict them.
Johnson has filed an eviction in Pueblo County court and on Dec. 11, a judge granted the eviction in favor of Johnson.
If you have a squatting issue, first try calling police to see if they will take a case report. You must also file an eviction in court in order to legally get squatters out. If you need help filing an eviction, you should seek legal advice.
After a judge ordered an eviction, Johnson informed News 5 Investigates the squatters have moved out. She says she has about $600 in damages from window screens the squatters ruined.