Colorado Family Kept Out Of Own Home For 8 Months By Squatters Claiming Adverse Possession

Imagine coming home after being out of town for a few months only to find that your house has been taken over by squatters who claim they now own the property. Now imagine waiting eight months for a court to finally kick those squatters out. One family in Colorado doesn’t have to imagine this horror story because it’s their true story.

This all goes back more than a year, when the husband landed a job that required him to relocate to Indiana. He moved away and the rest of the family followed last August. They tried to sell their home of 12 years before leaving, but opted to just turn off the utilities and winterize the house, with the goal of revisiting the real estate market later.

Not long after they had departed for Indiana, a neighbor contacted them to say there was a new family living in the house.

The couple came back and tried to talk to convince the squatters that they were the rightful owners of the house, but to no avail. The squatters claimed they had paid $5,000 to a third party — a former real estate agent whose license had been revoked — for a deed of “adverse possession.”

For those just coming into this whole adverse possession thing, it’s a hold-over from a time when people who went broke would just abandon property they owned — often failed farms — because they could no longer maintain it. Adverse possession laws, which are different in every state, allowed people to take control of abandoned property on the condition that they maintain it and continue to pay utilities and taxes.

Adverse possession has had a renaissance of sorts in recent years as people who think they are clever have tried to use it as a way to lay claim to houses abandoned by people who couldn’t pay their mortgages. What most of these people don’t understand is that adverse possession laws all give some sort of grace period for the rightful owner to reclaim their property. So even though there is an inventory of empty houses out there, the property is almost always still owned by a lender that foreclosed on the property.

That isn’t the case here, as the actual homeowners were still in possession of the home — just living a few hundred miles away. They have been living in a family member’s basement for the last several months.

“I told her ‘What you’re doing is wrong, it’s illegal. I would really like you to move out of the home or we will take legal action against you,’” the wife tells CBS Denver.

Yesterday, a judge in Colorado finally sided with the homeowners and gave the squatters 48 hours to get out.

“We get to get out of the basement, get a full home to live in,” the wife says about the ruling. “A home we created and worked very hard in as well.”

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  1. PragmaticGuy says:

    And this took eight months? Well, they’re still looking for Jon Benet Ramsey’s killer over there too.

  2. aaronx says:

    I imagine the rightful homeowners will be able to sue the squatters for 8 months worth of mortgage payments too?

  3. AcctbyDay says:

    Call police, alert them to breaking and entering and trespassing. Show police proof of home ownership such as Deed or other forms. Their name is on the tax rolls for the county as well. I would’ve had them out of there and in jail in less than 24 hours.

    • Random Lurker says:

      This was the first thought that came to me. There’s got to be more to the story somewhere.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Sounds good, but once it becomes obvious that it’s a tenancy issue, the cops will wash their hands of it.

    • rdclark says:

      The squatters have documentation too. The police are not in a position to adjudicate whose documentation is legitimate and whose isn’t. So it ends up in court. Hooray for a justice system “ruled by law, not by men.”

      • Jaynor says:

        I’d be tempted to hire some acquaintences to remove them via baseball bats, then change the locks on the home.

        • JJFIII says:

          Other than that landing you in a new home as a guest of the state department of corrections that might be a good plan. If the family living there honestly thought they had bought a home from the real estate agent, why would you take a baseball bat to them? the internet tough guy act is old. this is a country of LAWS, yet the right wingers prefer the use of guns and wild west to get their way. It is why they bomb abortion clinics.

          • Velvet Jones says:

            Your compassionate BS is getting old. It is people like you that allow this shit to happen over and over again. Criminals who exploit the ignorant and feeble minded. A country of laws, apparently these squatters and the piece of garbage real estate agents could care less about the law.

            • shufflemoomin says:

              Criminals? Again, how do you know they DIDN’T genuinely believe they’d bought the property legitimately? Secondly, it’s “CouldN’T care less”, you fool.

              • Velvet Jones says:

                Yes, because you can always buy a house for $5000 and no other paperwork. Only if you’re criminally stupid. Just like illegals who claim they didn’t know they were breaking the law when sneaking across the border in the back of a van at 3:00 am. Were you born gullible or did you have to work at it?

              • Golfer Bob says:

                Yes, they are criminals and apparently logic and common sense didn’t occur to them and they couldn’t care less that you can’t buy a home for 5,000 dollars.

              • I look at both sides of the story says:

                Criminals? Again, how do you know they DIDN’T genuinely believe they’d bought the property legitimately? Secondly, it’s “CouldN’T care less”, you fool.

                Where’s the first or firstly? If you’re using secondly (you’re enumerating), then you need a first, you fool.

                I hate name calling.

            • njack says:

              I’d totally believe it if some random real estate agent gave me a deed of adverse possession for $5k.

          • redhouse321 says:

            And why left wingers sit around in tents on Wall street, poop on the street, eat it and even kill their own fellow protesters.

          • bhr says:

            I love how you had to assume it was political and then bring it back to abortion clinic bombings (which are exceedingly rare, almost as rare as arsons by environmental groups and bombings by left wing causes)

            • MarkFL says:

              Ignore this one. He tried painting me with that same brush even though I’m probably more liberal than he is. I stopped feeding him a couple of days ago.

          • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

            No way they “honestly thought” they had moved into a fully furnished house with a low one-time payment and no monthly payments.

            The reporter caught them off guard when they said “No speak English” and he came back at them in Spanish.

          • GearheadGeek says:

            “thought that they bought the house” for $5k? Really? We’re supposed to see as reasonable the purchase of a single-family home for $5k? Maybe in Detroit, but not likely anywhere in Colorado. A vacant lot in my area is worth about $60k, and I don’t live in a pricey area. If the squatters were well-meaning morons who really believed they bought the house for $5k, evidence to the contrary would have prompted them to move out. It’s much more likely that they’re thieving scum who knew full well that it was a load of crap but thought they might just get an essentially free house out of it.

            • 401k says:

              Please RTFA: “Adverse possession laws, which are different in every state, allowed people to take control of abandoned property on the condition that they maintain it and continue to pay utilities and taxes.”

              You can own a home outright and still owe these things. Not every living situation requires a mortgage or rent payment every month.

              • GearheadGeek says:

                Please catch a clue. Adverse possession laws depend upon the legal owners of the property NOT making a claim on it during the mandated period. I believe in Colorado that period of time is 18 (eighteen) years. The actual legal owner walking up and offering proof that he is in fact the legal owner and ordering you to leave resets that clock… if the legal owners of the home had walked away after telling the squatters to GTFO, AND stayed away for 18 years, AND the squatters had paid the property taxes for all of those 18 years AND met several other conditions under Colorado statute, THEN they can legally become the owners of the property, and not before. Until that time they’re squatters.

                If they had legitimately thought they were in an abandoned house, and imagined that no one with genuine legal claim to the house was going to show up for 18 years, and did not mean to steal the house, they would have left more or less immediately when the legal owners of the house returned and ordered them out.

                I stand by what I wrote before. Up to the point where they tried to remain in the house after the legal owners ordered them out, they might well have believed they could get the house without paying for it, but the fact that they remained after that time erases any sympathy I might have for them. It’s still possible that they were duped initially by the shitbag former real estate agent, but they acted dishonorably when the truth came out.

              • GearheadGeek says:

                A further twist that just a modicum of research turns up is that in Colorado, the person claiming adverse possession must have a good faith belief that he is the legal owner of the property. This prevents cases of home theft like this, and makes the law more about things like where a property line is. e.g. if you build you house on a corner of a plot of land to which you hold title and genuinely believe that the house is on your land, and find out in a survey 20 years later that the house is actually on your neighbor’s land, you can claim the land under your house under this doctrine but have to pay your neighbor the fraction of the last 18 years’ property taxes equal to the fraction of the land you’re taking from his property.

                The “claim” of this house is worth less than shit, because at least you can use shit as fertilizer.

            • MarkFL says:

              Seems far-fetched a first, but such things are happening. Perhaps you saw this story from earlier this week right here on consumerist.com:

              http://consumerist.com/2012/07/how-does-someone-lose-their-house-over-a-474-water-bill.html

          • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

            I know a couple of left wingers and a defenseman or two that have guns. What’s your point? Hockey players can’t have guns.

          • Smiling says:

            I am not a right winger and I happen to agree with booting them out on their asses with as much force as needed. It is the purchasers fault for not checking to make sure they weren’t being scammed. It’s not hard to check to see if someone owns the home already. They also had a duty to check the laws regarding what they were doing. Dummy assery is not an excuse to steal someone’s home.

            I have compassion, but not for theft, and not for laziness and ignorance/stupidity.

            I would like to see these bozos sued for back rent, etc…

          • Smiling says:

            And no, people bomb abortion clinics because they are bat shit crazy. Those things are rare. Most people who have guns never even use them to harm another person.

        • Golfer Bob says:

          I pictured these folks coming back to the house and the new occupants walking around in their bathrobes and eating their cereal. I would have the same reaction no matter how long I was away from the house. Their shit would be out the door with them right behind them. Let them take their adverse possession deed to the judge while I was sleeping in my own damn house.

      • The Beer Baron says:

        I do believe, again, at the risk of sounding like a Telenet Strong Man, that my elephant gun would be all the documentation I would need, eh wot?

    • who? says:

      It doesn’t work that way. Once someone has moved in, the rightful owner has to get them evicted. Why it took 8 months? No clue.

      • iesika says:

        That’s my biggest question here. An unlawful detainer case should not take that long. Were the squatters lawyered to high hell, or is the civil court there truly that slow?

        I thought San Diego was bad when my last UD took two months from start to finish.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        It can take years for a civil case to reach the courts. A few years ago an attorney in Mass told me it can take 2 years for a civil case to reach a judge because the courts are so overworked.

    • Charmander says:

      Exactly. The minute I got to my house, I would have called the police and had the complete strangers arrested from breaking and entering my home. Then, I would have had the locks changed.

      I don’t understand why it took 5 months.

      If someone steals your car, do they get to keep driving it until a judge decides they have to give it back? I would think it is the same scenario with a house.

  4. Pete the Geek says:

    I don’t understand why the local police would not respond to a trespassing complaint.

    • EYAdams says:

      Because police aren’t experts in real estate. It doesn’t take a lot of work to get an official document that makes it look like you own a piece of property – “This American Life” did a show about a con man in New Orleans who more or less made a living at it. That’s why it has to wait for the courts to sort out, and anything that goes to the court is going to take time. 8 months actually seems like a reasonable amount of time for a court trial.

    • Necoras says:

      As mentioned above, the police likely would show up. But when both sides have a legal document stating they have a right to be there, the police will not, and should not, decide who is correct. That’s what courts are for.

      The real point here is that the squatters should never have gotten their document in the first place. It was invalid, which is what the court found.

      • Velvet Jones says:

        No, it should not be up to the courts to decide. In this case the “documentation” was fake. So under the current state of the law in Colorado, any clever person with a printer can apparently scout for nice home, print up a fake deed, wait for the owners to go out for the night, then just break in and start cooking dinner. Cops show up, show your fake deed and then live free for months, if not years, while the moronic justice system does nothing.

        • MarkFL says:

          It’s easy to say the documentation was fake now. But the police do not have the authority to decide which is fake. In fact, they may not have even been “fake,” they may have been legitimate documents obtained by the real estate agent through fruadulent means.

          • Charmander says:

            They could easily look up the most recent tax records, and whether or not the house was recently sold (the deed has to be recorded in county records.)

          • Velvet Jones says:

            I would imagine a call to the county clerks office would clear it up in less than a day. In many places this information is available on-line. As others have said, for this type of claim to be valid the property would have to have been abandoned for 18 years. A two minute chat with the neighbors should have made it crystal clear that these people were illegal squatters.

      • Smiling says:

        One of them had a fake legal document.

  5. mergatroy6 says:

    48 hours is way too generous. Think of the damage that could be done in that time.

    I totally understand that they probably have furniture etc. that needs to be moved but I am not trusting of people who try this stuff. Regardless of the circumstances you have to know that $5,000 is too good to be true.

    • sagodjur1 says:

      It was $5000 for a deed of adverse possession, so they knew they were paying for an attempt at taking away someone else’s property.

  6. Bort says:

    can they sue for unpaid “rent”?

    • amuro98 says:

      You can sue anyone for any reason. Though I’m willing to bet the squatters don’t have any money, which is why they were squatting. Same reason why they can’t sue the former real estate agent either.

      • ZachPA says:

        Au contraire! They apparently had no troubles writing a check for $5000 to the “broker” for the opportunity.

        I would imagine at very least, if the squatters paid utility bills and taxes for the time they occupied the home, then those are not refundable. If they paid no utility bills or taxes, then they probably should pay those to the owners as rent.

        • njack says:

          Laws of adverse possession require the squaters to pay things like utilities and taxes. They can’t pay $5k for the deed then not turn power on, pay taxes, maintain the home.

        • MarkFL says:

          They might be able to claim rent, and the squatters had money to pay the $5000, but now they (squatters) are out $5000 and have to take the real estate agent to court. They are victims in this case, too.

          I imagine if I were in the place of the original owners, as long as the squatters moved out and left the place in the same condition as when they moved in, I’d be happy to get my house back, let the squatters off the hook, and try to join in a lawsuit against the agent. For all we know, they may have made improvements, and having someone in the house running the utilities can actually prevent some problems.

          • Smiling says:

            People who knowingly move into someone’s home are not victims. They knew they were moving into a home that was owned and that they owners might come back and reclaim the property, and they did. The fact that they stayed for 8 months, knowing that the owners needed the home, instead of moving out is proof that they had ill intent.

    • wackydan says:

      You are going to sue someone who is potentially not an American citizen and you have no idea how to track them down and serve them?

      • njack says:

        Nobody is unfindable and nothing says I can only sue American citizens.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          Yeah, but good luck tracking them down and hope and pray if you do find them, the country they’re in has an extradition treaty with yours. Even if they do, as the old saying go, you can’t draw blood from a stone.

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            Oops. NEED EDIT BUTTON! STILL!!! “go” s/b “goes.” In my valiant attempt to figure out how to spell extradition, I kinda got hung up in the rest of my pre-post editing.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I still don’t understand why police cannot remove these people for trespassing. There is sufficient evidence to do so.

    Further, this should be a speedy court case, why would it take 8 months? The evidence in the homeowner’s favor is rather monumental.

    • RandomHookup says:

      You’ve basically got a tenancy case and the cops won’t deal with those. It’s not a criminal matter. The only tenant I had to evict took 6 months, so that’s not an outrageous time, especially if the courts are backed up or your lawyer does everything to delay the case.

    • stevenpdx says:

      The quality of evidence does not determine when a trial is held.

      The trial is held when the court’s schedule allows it.

      • who? says:

        That’s what I was thinking. I don’t know about Colorado, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the courts there are really backlogged. Between the mandatory sentencing laws most places have and state budget cuts, it can take a long time for things to get through the court system.

      • dangermike says:

        If the evidence is monumental and the squatters are indeed trespassing, it seems the evidence could be presented to district attourney to issue an arrest warrant. Sounds like the system is broken or corrupt…

        • stevenpdx says:

          Which would the necessitate it being handed over to the court system…. and back to the problem of overcrowded civil courts.

      • Charmander says:

        Why would there be a trial?

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Because it’s not for the police to determine who has the right to live there. That’s an issue for a court to decide.

      If they had just shown up and had been there only a few days, or even weeks, you may have been able to get the police to act. But they were there for months, at which point they are considered to be residents of the property, and only a court can remove them.

      Although it varies by state, if you reside somewhere for a specific period of time, usually 60-90 days, you are considered a resident and cannot be summarily removed without a court order.

  8. NotATool says:

    Who cares if they paid $5,000 to some scam artist? That’s not the homeowner’s problem. If I were the homeowner, I would have dragged them out myself, if the police really would not remove said trespassers.

    • who? says:

      It’s not the job of the police to adjudicate a situation like this. I call the cops, saying that somebody is trespassing in “my” house. The cops show up and find that people living in the house, with furniture, dog, kids, and mom cooking dinner in the kitchen. The family living in the house claims to own the house. Who are the cops supposed to believe? The person who is standing on the curb with possibly faked documents? Or the people who are clearly living in the house, who have the keys to the front door.

      At that point, it’s not the cops’ job. It’s a job for the courts. There’s something wrong with the court system that this took 8 months, but it’s still a job for the court.

      • FredKlein says:

        Who are the cops supposed to believe?

        It’s a choice between:

        A) the people who have a document that basically says “we’re living in an abandoned house in order to eventually own it”:

        and

        B) the people who have the legal deed to the house and have not, in fact, abandoned it (thus completely negating the others Adverse Possession).

        The choice is obvious. Even for a cop.

    • JJFIII says:

      maybe you did not learn this, but police are NOT judges or juries. If I can prove I have ownership, yet you are the one on the street claiming you do, who would the average person believe?It might be a good idea to maybe visit your house a little more often or pay a property management company to make sure it appears lived in.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      And you would have wound up in jail, and not have to worry about having a house to live in.

  9. ReverendTed says:

    I’m pretty sure if you call the police claiming trespassing they’ll show up, get shown the “Deed of Adverse Possession” and let you hash it out in the court. The flip side of this is the person who takes over a legitimately abandoned property, invests in fixing it up, only to have the original owner show back up demanding ownership of the now-ship shape property.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      “The flip side of this is the person who takes over a legitimately abandoned property, invests in fixing it up, only to have the original owner show back up demanding ownership of the now-ship shape property”

      That’s part of the game and the chance you take. If you are truly in posession of an abandoned property you probably shouldn’t put a penny into it if it can be helped, at least not until you gain LEGAL posession of it.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Except that under most adverse possession doctrines, part of showing you have become the rightful owner is to maintain and/or improve the property.

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    Have a locksmith change the locks when they leave for a while. When they come back and try to get into the house, call the police and say someone is trying to break into your home. Provide police with proof of home ownership. Voilà, problem solved.

    • scoosdad says:

      I’m willing to bet that once the original family showed up, that house was never ever left unoccupied for a moment.

    • RandomHookup says:

      And when you can’t unlock the current locks?

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      And when they pull out their driver’s license with that address on it you’re now hauled off to jail cause you have illegally evicted the current residents of the premises. Voilà, grand theft larceny.

    • Smiling says:

      This is what I was thinking. They have to leave at some point. I would call a locksmith and pay them extra to come do the work asap. I would box up their stuff, put it in storage for 1 month, and tape and envelope with a key to the door. Let them call the cops. Then they are the ones stuck going to court and suing to get a property they never owned back.

  11. mik3y says:

    It seems all of these types of stories take months to resolve. How do you even protect yourself against something like this?

    • Jawaka says:

      Probably don’t abandon your home for long periods of time without having someone watch it for you.

    • sagodjur1 says:

      Leave one of your clever children to protect the house Home Alone-style when you go anywhere for a long time. Pretend that you honestly forgot them when child protective services asks why they were alone.

      Or set up a webcam.

    • who? says:

      Personally, instead of shutting off the power and water and leaving the place abandoned, I would have found a tenant.

      But that’s just me, I suppose…

  12. Jawaka says:

    I’d be physically throwing people out of my home if this happened to me.

  13. HogwartsProfessor says:

    This ridiculously-outdated bullshit needs to be abolished or changed. It’s appalling that people can basically commit THEFT of the home and it takes this long to get them out. I’m always worried if I go on vacation, someone will move into my house. I let my neighbor know exactly when I’m supposed to be back. I tell him if you see anyone else over here, call the cops.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Tenancy law has always been very protective of the “possessors” of a property. Even if adverse possession didn’t exist, you would still have to go through an eviction process.

  14. theblackdog says:

    Cue the squatters taking a sledgehammer to the walls and ripping out all the copper pipes and wiring for the next 48 hours in 3…2…1…

  15. CalicoGal says:

    1- How did the squatters get in without keys? Did they break in and change the locks?

    2- How did they get the utilities turned on? Or did they live there without utilities??

    3- Why couldn’t the homeowners walk in, toss the squatters’ belongings out in the street, and just reclaim the space? What would the squatters do then? Sleep on the floor? Become roommates?

    • ahecht says:

      As someone that has lived in several rental properties, I can tell you that there is no security involved with turning on utilities. Anyone can become liable for utility service on residential property simply by asking the utility company. I guess they assume that no one would mind someone else paying their bills for them.

      • who? says:

        Indeed. The utility company will turn the power and water on for anybody. The only interesting thing I’ve seen was when we were moving out of a place, and a new tenant was moving in, and the new tenant called to start the electric service before we called to have it cut off. The utility company called us to confirm that we were moving and wanted the service transferred to the new people. If the power were already off, that woudn’t be necessary.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      The “squatters” would then call the police and have you arrested. You just can’t waltz into an occupied home and toss out the current residents and their belongings even if you are the legal owner of the property. It’s considered an illegal eviction. This can only be done by the police or sheriff, and only via a court order.

  16. ThatCatGuy says:

    I think would think a deed registered with the county would rank higher than a piece of paper from some scam artist.
    And I think Mr. Mossberg might be a helpful convincer.

  17. william says:

    [quote]Fernandez-Beleta told CBS4 in Spanish, “I am sad and confused and distressed.”[/quote]

    Look buddy, if you paid $5000 and think you can own a home, then either

    1. You are naive, thus deserve to be out of 5k
    2. You are going along with the scam, thus deserve to be out of 5k
    3. You are dumb, thus deserve to be out of 5k
    4. You don’t speak a word of English in U.S., thus deserve to be out 5k.

    Whichever way you look at it, a fool and his money soon parts. 1% sympathy and 99% your own fault

    • snowlock says:

      i dunno, 5k for that many months’ rent isn’t a bad rate…

    • Mr_D says:

      Theft is ok if you don’t speak the local language?

      • Velvet Jones says:

        I don’t know they just didn’t call ICE and be done with it. Odds are if these people are don’t speak the language and a dumb enough to think that $5k will get them a house worth several hundred thousand dollars then they were most likely illegals, I mean “undocumented workers”. Hey, break one law mind as well break them all. Maybe next they’ll set up a meth lab in the next house they squat in.

      • MarkFL says:

        If you don’t speak the language, you must be an illegal. Which in turn, means that you are probably going to commit theft, murder, etc., if you haven’t already.

        Seriously, though, if they are immigrants who don’t speak much English, they are less likely to know the laws. This is even more true if they are recent arrivals, regardless of their status.

        • FreddyJohnson says:

          My wife has a green card, and had to show a proficiency in English at several points in the immigration process. So the only way that I can imagine that they wouldn’t be proficient in English is if they were taken into the country as refugees, or were here illegally.

          As far as I know, refugees usually have a great deal of government support and wouldn’t be squatting in someone’s house.

    • kobresia says:

      There is another possibility: You live in Detroit.

  18. humphrmi says:

    What a lot of people who are trying to claim adverse possession don’t know is, generally once you’re asked to leave by the true owner of the property, adverse possession rights end.

    In fact, the laws also generally state that when the true owner even gives permission for you to stay on the property, you lose adverse possession rights (because you’re no longer a squatter).

    So this family could have simply said “Feel free to stay on the property until 6:00 PM today” and then at 6:00 PM they could say the free ride is over, get out.

    Of course, it sounds like these squatters weren’t in any hurry to leave anyway, it probably wouldn’t have helped. But it would have given them more legal footing, IMHO (and IANAL).

    • George4478 says:

      It cannot be as easy as you claim.

      I am willing to bet the legal owners said “you have to leave” or “get out of my how right now” at some point, which according to you would have resolved the whole issue instantly.

      Yet it took cops and lawyers and judges and 8 months.

  19. snowlock says:

    i would be adamant with the squatters about taking a look at the “deed,” then run and completely destroy it when they gave it to me.

  20. Kate Blue says:

    I’m wondering if you could just walk in and refuse to walk back out again.

    • iesika says:

      I was wondering that, too. Since possession is 9/10 of the law (especially in a possession case), would camping on the lawn count? That’s on the property. Get yourself invited in to discuss things (with a hint that you might be willing to pay them to leave) and then…don’t leave? I’m going to have to look this up.

  21. ronbo97 says:

    I would think that if there’s any question about who the owner of the house is, a copy of the deed, coupled with a receipt for the most recent property tax bill, should be sufficient proof of ownership.

    IMHO, it’s not a matter of having to go through the process of eviction. It’s trespassing on private property. The police should be able to remove them without a problem.

  22. BookLady says:

    It was unfortunate that it took 8 months, but the homeowners followed the best course to legally resolve the situation. Any attempt to physically dispel the squatters would have landed the owners in legal hot water. Adverse possession laws are actually an important part of the land laws here in the west, although it is usually about situations like fences on the neighbor’s property. I hope the scumbag fake realtor receives the harshest punishment possible and he should have to refund everybody’s money that he scammed.

  23. wackydan says:

    Amazing amount of patience… I’d have called the local authorities and press trespassing charges and remove them…

    If local authorities wouldn’t help, then I’d be escorting the family out at the barrel of a gun and several friends. Problem solved. Let them press charges.

    I find it disturbing that this house was even a foreclosure and this happened. People are assholes.

    • wackydan says:

      I might also add.. these people occupying the home are also what is indicative of the issue with immigration in this country. They don’t speak english and were taken advantage of. I’m also willing to bet that the house was trashed in the process of them living there or moving out – and that is regardless of who they are, skin tone or nationality…

    • RandomHookup says:

      Watch the movie “Pacific Heights”…

  24. Ablinkin says:

    Proof of ownership in hand? Check!
    Double Barreled Shotgun? Check!
    Knock on door of MY empty home? Check!
    “You have 1 minute to get the hell out of MY house”? Check!

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Go to jail for threatening to shoot or actually assaulting the people who probably far outnumber you? Check.

      Everybody keeps saying “oh, I’d just go in there and throw them to the curb”, but I have trouble imagining that most people could or would actually do that.

  25. redhouse321 says:

    That’s a bad situation. Sounds like both parties need to locate the “real estate agent” and have a little talk.

  26. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Ew! I would want to have the whole house sanitized from top to bottom. Just thinking of this really skeeves me out, I mean, strangers living in your house, for all that time. Just yuck.

    And someone really needs to update the laws or do something about the adverse possession rules. Some lowlife shouldn’t just be able to move into your unoccupied house, with the real owners left with no legal recourse. In a fair world, lowlifes should find themselves and whatever possessions they dragged in back out on the curb in 2 minutes.

  27. history_theatrestudent says:

    I’m seeing round two in civil court: Suing for back rent.

  28. BennieHannah says:

    I wish I could say I was surprised. We’re (getting) to the end of a long process to evict a non-paying, month-to-month tenant, which is supposedly the “easiest” type of tenant to evict. EVERY step of the process takes far longer than it should. A 7 day notice is 7 business days. Meanwhile he’s stealing rent for actual days. Any paperwork generated by the court takes two weeks …for…printing? With loss of rent, mileage (the rental property is out of town), utilities (long story), court costs, service fees etc, we’re out over $4000, and it’s not over yet. We could sue the tenant, but he doesn’t have any assets to go after.

    I get that lanlord/tenant laws are supposed to protect vulnerable people from unscrupulous landlords but what the laws really do is make it harder for landlords to view any renter as an individual so that they will not consider individual circumstances when it comes to rental policies. Our next renter will be subject to a background check and a credit check, will pay first last and security deposit, will be issued a notice to vacate the MINUTE the rent is late — otherwise you lose too much rent if the eviction is “contested” and the process drags on. No pets. No smoking. No exceptions.

    • iesika says:

      State laws are different on these things, but in CA at least you can get a money judgment included in the judgment for possession, which saves some costs. Back rent, damages, and service fees are pretty easy to get – judges here just rubber stamp.

      I’m with you on the balance of favor in the landlord/tenant laws. Try to get a cosigner if you can – preferably someone with property of their own. Sometimes all you can do is slap a lien on something and hope.

  29. ConsumerA says:

    Just a little geography lesson: The distance from Littleton, Colorado to Indiana is close to a thousand miles…slightly more than “a few hundred” miles.

  30. The Wyrm says:

    Break in (it’s your own property), kill the squatters, call police.
    These ‘people’ think they are being clever, viewing those who follow the laws as being the ‘suckers.’ Teach them the hard way that castle doctrine trumps adverse possession.

    • who? says:

      Nope. Two problems with this idea. Castle doctrine allows you to defend your *home* from an intruder. In this case, the owner’s home is in Indiana. This is just a house that they happen to own. Also, castle doctrine only applies if the person has a reasonable fear of bodily harm. It seems unlikely to apply if they have to break *into* the house to shoot someone.

      Okay, now that I’ve read the statute…the Colorado statute applies to the “occupant” of the home, so it looks to me like the squatter might be able to use deadly force to defend himself against an owner who breaks in, not the other way around.

      • MarkFL says:

        “Okay, now that I’ve read the statute”

        What? You’re actually READING the relevant laws? Getting facts before posting your comment?

        What are you trying to do, subvert the Internet?

  31. dush says:

    I don’t understand how they police wouldn’t just remove them for trespassing.

    • RandomHookup says:

      If someone is occupying a residence and claims to have legal rights to be there, the police can only refer it to the courts to decide. You wouldn’t want the average cop to decide pull you out of your house based on phony documents. The law is the same for even illegal residents. You have to evict them through the courts.

      • Oh_No84 says:

        So then you are saying cops will prevent you from entering your house, but wont kick out a squatter? That makes no sense.

  32. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    I’m guessing the squatters had no right to this property, considering the adverse possession law in Colorado states many criteria in order to lay claim to the property–one of which says you’ve been in there undisputed for 18 years. Furthermore, the owner coming back to reclaim it has remedies to get the money back (s)he paid in property taxes etc. from the squatter. Read this little bit here.

  33. Rhinoguy says:

    The police did nothing because that is the path of least resistance. I rented space in an old bank building that also rented space to a night club. We had a common door to the outside but separate doors with separate keys inside the lobby. The owner of the club decided he OWNED the entire building. I went into my office on a Friday night and the club’s bouncer tried to take my keys. I called the police. After I explained my side of the story and showed the SIX officers my lease they decided it was easier to throw ME out since I was only one person and the club by now had five bouncers all screaming at me. They took the path of least resistance. That is the norm.

  34. evilpete says:

    After the move out, Sue for back rent, utilities , repairs…

    • randomneko says:

      Sue who though?

      • purepoppeople says:

        The real estate agent who sold it to them should absolutely face criminal charges and jailtime, including paying those costs back to the owners as well as the 5k back to the buyers.
        The issue I see is that the family who bought the house spoke no English according to the video and may have been targeted and taken advantage of by the agent. In most cases, you could argue that the buyers should have done their due diligence and it would be easy enough for them to figure out the home’s ownership and that they shouldn’t be able to claim innocence in this. However, I’m not sure you can say that in this case.

    • Difdi says:

      Reading is, apparently, very hard.

  35. xanxer says:

    See, my rifle would have made them leave my home. “Home invaders! I feared for my life!”

    • mikeami says:

      Shoot the family who bought the house “legally” (or so they thought), and in front of their children? You Ted Nugent are a genius!

      Jesus was a Socialist

      • Mr. Bill says:

        Why not! Wait for them to leave toss there junk out if they try to enter stand your ground from a home invader.

      • xanxer says:

        Well after they discovered that they actually did not own the home, they should have vacated it immediately.

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        Even Ted Nugent isn’t stupid enough to believe that any of this was done in good faith.

        They are a family of burglars and should be treated as such.

    • Difdi says:

      And if they had guns, and were better at using them than you? They reasonably believed they owned the house. They had been scammed, but that did not affect their reasonable belief.

      A successful self-defense plea requires only a reasonable belief. Not a factual one.

      On the other hand, suppose they were unarmed when you showed up with your rifle? Self-defense must be proportionate to the threat. If there was no threat, then there was no self-defense. And that would result in a criminal conviction for you. Three or four counts of aggravated assault minimum, possibly attempted murder or even first degree murder if you actually open fire.

      • dcatz says:

        Not in my state.

        The presence of an intruder in your home is considered evidence of intent to cause harm to you and you are allowed to use any force you believe is necessary in order to disperse the intruder(s).

  36. DarkPsion says:

    Step One: Get a deed of adverse possession for the Chief of Police or the Mayor’s house.

    Step Two: Move in and have a TV News crew there to film everything.

  37. dcatz says:

    There is an easy solution to this problem.

    If the government (as usual) won’t do anything to protect your rights, you have to take it upon yourself to do it. If they refuse to leave, introduce them to Mr. Remington or Mr. Glock. I am fortunate enough to live in a state with castle doctrine; here, the mere presence of an intruder in your home satisfies the legal requirement of an intent to cause harm, thus allowing the use of any force the home owner believes is necessary to disperse the intruders (up to and including lethal force).

    • t-spoon says:

      I consider myself generally OK with guns. I mean, I agree with the principle that if somebody breaks into your home you have the right to basically murder them if you feel threatened. They shouldn’t be in your home, and it’s nuts that homeowners can be sued by the crooks in some states.

      That being said, is that really what you’d do in this situation? Say you find out that it’s going to require working through a lot of red tape in order to get back in your old house. Do you then really grab a loaded weapon and point it at a man? Are you prepared to go through the experience of shooting somebody in front of their kids in order to not deal with the paperwork?

      • xanxer says:

        After the squatters being shown the proper deed and then refusing to leave for months? Yeah, the use of force is justified. Either the sherif needed to force them out or the homeowner.

        • JEDIDIAH says:

          The takeaway lesson from this is to forcibly evict these people yourself lest the authorities choose not to and leave you in a legal quagmire. You are bound to bankrupt yourself in legal fees before you get your house back from people that are clearly judgement proof.

          I wonder if an alarm service might have helped avert this situation.

  38. Bog says:

    Why not bring in some “fridends” and apply force to remove them. Leave the police out of it.