Squatters File Bankruptcy To Keep Homeowners Out Of Their Own House

Earlier this month, we told you about the Colorado family that, after 8 months of trying to evict squatters who had moved into their temporarily vacated house and falsely claimed “adverse possession,” finally convinced a judge to order the squatters to leave. Seems like all was resolved. Not exactly.

To recap for those just coming into this story, the Colorado family relocated to Indiana last summer when the husband took a new job. However, they didn’t sell their house. Instead, they winterized it with the goal of returning in the spring.

But shortly afterward, a neighbor called to tell them a family had moved into the house. These squatters claimed they had purchased the property, claiming adverse possession — an antiquated and oft-misunderstood law that allows people to eventually take possession of an abandoned home if they maintain it and pay all the taxes and utilities.

After trying to get the police involved, the local authorities deemed it a civil matter. Thus, the rightful owners of the house were forced to live in a friend’s basement for months while they waited for their day in court.

Finally, earlier this month, the just gave the squatters two days to leave. But then the squatters successfully filed a temporary restraining order against the homeowners after the husband entered the unlocked house to take photographs and document the condition of the property.

Since the family couldn’t go near the house, when the 48 hour deadline had come and gone, they called the local police to report the squatters. Once again, a dead end.

“Littleton police officers did everything possible within the limits of their authority.” a rep for the town tells CBS Denver. “Circumstances of eviction are civil matters and enforcement is done by sheriff’s offices, not by local police agencies. It is really unfortunate that there are two families who are victims in this case.”

It took almost two weeks, but the county sheriff was finally about to get around to the eviction. But then, in the eleventh hour, one of the squatters filed for bankruptcy.

“The sheriff’s office will not proceed with an eviction if there is a bankruptcy in question,” said the Arapahoe County Undersheriff.

Which means the whole issue must now go before a Federal Bankruptcy Court, and we’ve heard a rumor that these court have been a bit busy of late. So it could be the fall before the homeowners even get to explain this outlandish situation to the court — again.

Squatters Remain In Littleton Home Despite Judge’s Ruling [CBS Denver]

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  1. cactus jack says:

    :( These poor people. Just give them back their damn home.

  2. ReverendTed says:

    These squatters keep getting craftier and craftier. Adverse possession, a restraining order, and now bankruptcy?
    Sleazy, but you’ve got to give them some credit for their sheer tenacity.
    Pity they probably don’t have any assets worth suing over for the owner’s headaches.

    • RandomHookup says:

      When the guy I bought a two-family home from decided to move in with his (legally residing) girlfriend in the other half, he broke the toilets & then called the health department to cite me. We offered to fix, but he wouldn’t respond. Seems like not having toilets is an extreme way to get your way.

      The owner was an idiot for going over there before the eviction, however. My lawyer warned me about even talking to the tenants while we waited for court dates. He suggested that any sexual offers to me might be followed by rape charges (not that it happened…)

    • msbaskx2 says:

      I can’t believe this has been going on for a year, with no end in sight.

      Isn’t there someone who can help these peoople? A local official? Congressman? Obama himself? Someone somewhere has to be able to do something!

      How it it possible that I could just move into your house and there’s nothing you can do about it?!?!?!?!

    • fsnuffer says:

      These people have to leave the house some time right? When they do leave the house, how about the original owners going in and claiming adverse possession on their own house?

  3. JEDIDIAH says:

    You would think that with Colorado gun laws being as they are that this sort of situation would have been resolved pretty quickly.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      As messed up as it is, I was just thinking that.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      You would think with this perception the problem would never have happened to begin with… I am not an expert in CO laws, but in Texas there would be virtually no way to legally use force against these people. If anything the squatters would have the right to use force, not the homeowners.

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

    Here’s a solution for this poor family whose home has been taken from them. Get a group of people, and just go in there and physically remove the squatters. Get a dumpster, and toss out anything that they dragged in.

    Honestly, the laws in this country need some serious overhauling. This whole situation is absurd!

    • Driblis says:

      Yeah, then they’d get arrested for assault and theft and destruction of property.

      Protip: In a developed nation, you can’t just do what you want and pretend that being vaguely morally justified means that you are legally in the clear.

      • Tim says:

        But this is essentially what the squatters are doing. Why won’t they get arrested?

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

        That works both ways. The squatters have no right to this house, and they’re keeping the legal owners from living there. I did not advocate hurting the squatters, just picking them up and removing them from the property they are trespassing on! The squatters are doing just what you said – doing what they want and pretending they’re vaguely morally justified.

        • Driblis says:

          Yeah I know. i’m not siding with the squatters here. I’m just saying that you can’t just barge in and forcibly evict them. I know it’s moronic, but that’s how it works.

          • msbaskx2 says:

            I just don’t understand why you have to legally evict someone who never had any legal right to be there in the first place.

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

              Exactly. Why coddle the squatters? They are wrong, and they’re breaking the law. And where is the guy who “sold” them the house to begin with? Why isn’t he in jail?

    • nugatory says:

      I’d be so frustrated by now I’d probably go this route. Except it’d be friends of friends paying a visit.

      This is beyond ridiculous.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      This. If I come home and someone is in the house that I own without my permission, I can use force to remove them. Why can’t this be the case here.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I think the problem is that the house was vacant for a period of time. That’s the loophole that needs to be closed on the squatters.

    • Jawaka says:

      The squatters are technically the home owners until the judge kicks them out. If anyone just breaks in and gets physical it can be looked at as a home invasion and the squatters may be within their rights to shoot them.

  5. PragmaticGuy says:

    I thought crap like this only happened in Florida.

  6. chiieddy says:

    Can’t they report it as breaking and entering?

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Again, no knowledge of CO law, but I believe breaking and entering is not really a charge in most places. In TX what they are doing would either be trespassing (misdemeanor, and no you can’t shoot someone for it) or burglary (which wouldn’t work for a vacant empty house).

      The Police were called and deemed it a civil matter, in which case they decided neither that there was insufficient probable cause to enforce either of those laws.

      • lawnmowerdeth says:

        But Texas has a Castle Doctrine law, which means you can shoot trespassers in your house.

        • nickmoss says:

          No, you can’t. All the following must be present:

          An intruder must be making (or have made) an attempt to unlawfully or forcibly enter an occupied residence, business or vehicle.
          The intruder must be acting illegally—for example, the Castle Doctrine does not give the right to use force against officers of the law acting in the course of their legal duties.
          The occupant(s) of the home must reasonably believe the intruder intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon an occupant of the home. Some states apply the Castle Doctrine if the occupant(s) of the home reasonably believe the intruder intends to commit a lesser felony such as arson or burglary.
          The occupant(s) of the home must not have provoked or instigated an intrusion, or provoked or instigated an intruder to threaten or use deadly force.
          In all cases, the occupant(s) of the home must be there legally, must not be fugitives from the law or aiding or abetting another person in being a fugitive from the law, and must not use force upon an officer of the law performing a legal duty

  7. techstar25 says:

    It seems to me that if the rightful owners could physically remove the squatters and change the locks, any attempt by the squatters to return to the home would be breaking and entering. There is only one TRUE owner of the home and only one party should be able to provide evidence of ownership. If the TRUE owner is inside the home, the police aren’t going to let a random third party enter the home. Then it becomes a criminal matter and no longer a civil matter. I know they wouldn’t try that in Florida. Down here if the owner showed up and found a squatter, the owner would be within his right to shoot the squatter square in the head and claim “castle doctrine”. Although I hear gun sales in Colorado are picking up so, we’ll see, I guess …

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      But you shouldn’t HAVE to be inside the home. It’s your legal property. The whole adverse possession thing needs to go bye bye. It’s stupid. They basically stole the property, and the courts are protecting them. This should not fall under any landlord-tenant law because they are not legal tenants. They signed nothing, they pay no rent, there is no agreement. They need to be arrested and criminally prosecuted. The laws are bullshit.

      • kathygnome says:

        I don’t think the courts are protecting them as much as waiting times at the courts are.

      • Kuri says:

        I don’t know about going bye bye completely, but it needs some serious looking at when shit like this happens.

  8. SirWired says:

    I’m baffled; how is this not Criminal Trespass? What stops them from borrowing some bouncers from the local biker bar, breaking back into their house, and tossing these folks out? What are the squatters going to do? They aren’t legal tenants, so I’d think their legal remedies the true owners are zip.

  9. SavijMuhdrox says:

    wow. this is ridiculous.

    why can’t they physically remove these people? Sure they could file assault charges, but simply concerning the legality of who owns the house.. wouldn’t that work?

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      But what if someone has a valid lease and is current on their rent? Without laws restraining property owners they could kick the leasee out when the next schmoe gave them a better offer. You might say it would be a civil matter and the leasee could sue, but I don’t see how a court could make things right after that.

      Clearly this isn’t the case here, but the laws protecting the squatters are the same laws that protect tenants. And if more than one person claims legitimate ownership the courts have to settle it.

      There really needs to be some way to expedite the process though.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        No, they need to divorce the squatter thing from the legal tenant thing. If you’re not a legal tenant, you are stealing the property and trespassing. That should not be protected at ALL.

        • ReverendTed says:

          The problem is that the legal tenants need to be protected from someone who might treat them as squatters, and it makes more sense to be protected on the front end (can’t just toss people out) than on the back end (tossed out tenants can sue over the mess). And in many cases the “who is a legal tenant” and “who is a squatter” may not be clear until the courts have decided.
          Innocent until proven guilty and all that.
          A few squatters get away with dastardly things because a lot of tenants are protected.

  10. dogmaticman says:

    What’s criminal is this Carrillo guy running around selling houses that aren’t his and then filing a turd-load of joke appeals to clog up the legal system. Given the situation has even gotten this far, there needs to be legal reforms to prevent this from happening again- and again.

  11. Ilovegnomes says:

    “The sheriff’s office will not proceed with an eviction if there is a bankruptcy in question,” said Arapahoe County Undersheriff David Walcher.

    WTF?!! The court already determined that the house doesn’t belong to the people filing for bankruptcy. Someone please explain to me why the police won’t do their job and why a judge would give these people a restraining order? I’m so sick of criminals having more protection than their victims.

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

      Your last sentence sums it all up. This seems to be a cut and dried situation, with a simple solution, but as it turns out, criminals often use the law to their advantage.

    • hobochangbar says:

      I’m guessing the court is applying rules intended to protect renters/lessees/mortgage holders from being evicted immediately if they’ve been unable to pay rent, fell behind & filed for bankruptcy. My recollection is that would give them a 90 day hold on getting evicted, intended to be enough time to figure out their housing so they don’t end up on the street.

      I’d think a judge could use their own judgement and rule that this doesn’t apply to squatters.

    • ReverendTed says:

      “Criminals” have more protections than “victims” because “it is better than 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be made to suffer”. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

  12. DaveInBillsburg says:

    Love the town of Littleton’s rep “…there are two families who are victims here”. No there isn’t, there is the rightful owner of the house and the family that is stealing from that owner. And yes it is stealing. If I own a car and you take it and don’t allow me to use it (i.e. drive it, or live in it) it would be stealing, not squatting.

    Are the owners paying the property taxes on the house, if so how can it be squatting and averse possession. The owners paid the taxes, maintained it by winterizing it, and had the intent of coming back in the spring to try and sell it. This is nothing but tresspassing and the police should deal with it.

    • Sian says:

      The way I understand it, the squatters were victimized by the jerk who ‘sold’ them the ‘abandoned’ property. Should they have known better? yeah.

    • Emily says:

      I agree. Only one family is victimized. The other family sounds like scum of the earth… who know in astounding detail how to manipulate the law to delay their removal.

    • Kuri says:

      Well, technically the other victim is the family who’s basement is currently occupied.

  13. sparc says:

    These states need harsher laws against squatters. This is ridiculous.

  14. GearheadGeek says:

    A question to anyone reading who believed in the first Consumerist article on this topic that the squatters were just innocent folk who had been duped by the dirtbag “former realtor” who sold them the adverse possession crap for $5k… What say ye now?

    Clearly they’re fighting tooth and nail to retain their ill-gotten possession of the property and know that they’ve no hope of keeping it for the 18 years that Colorado law requires they hold a property WITHOUT protest from the rightful owner before they can actually file for title to the property.

    I wonder if they can be fined by the bankruptcy court if it can be shown that they filed for fraudulent reasons… probably whoever filed really doesn’t have any assets and they qualify for the BK even though that’s not why they filed.

  15. dcatz says:

    There is an easy solution to this problem. Evict them yourselves. Show up armed and make them leave. If they refuse, shoot them.

    The government has had an opportunity to rectify this situation and they have (as usual) failed. It now falls on the property owners to defend their property from these parasites.

    • George4478 says:

      Your idea of ‘easy’ is way different from mine. Mine, for example, does not involve life imprisonment for shooting a family.

    • JJFIII says:

      hen of course, they will no longer be homeless. They will be residents of the state correctional department, but that is what people who are mental midgets would suggest. Committing a felony is not the smart way to fix a situation.

    • dcatz says:

      It is not wrong to defend your home and property from parasitic squatters. They have been given ample opportunity to vacate the premises they have illegally occupied.

      Good luck getting a jury to convict; if I was on that jury I would nullify the verdict as would most other homeowners. That is, if it even gets to trial because castle doctrine only has to be proven with a preponderance of the evidence (51%) (rather than beyond a reasonable doubt).

  16. Kestris says:

    There is only one family that is the vitim in this case and that is the true owners of the house. The other family is a scam artist family who knows exactly what they are doing.

    Chances are, they’re hoping the owners give up and walk away.

    • bobosims says:

      Common sense has apparently died a slow an painful death. For something so cut and dried, this is going on a lot longer than the 24 hours that it should have…

  17. Rexy does not like the new system says:

    Littleton is a few hours drive from me. I’m starting to get the itch to introduce them to Mr. Fist and Mrs. Fist.

  18. tinmanx says:

    So if a house owner goes on vacation for a couple of weeks, someone can file this adverse possession thing and move in legally?

    The judges and police are the enablers here. Yea, sure it’s a civil matter, but I’ve read so many stories where the police “strongly advise” in civil matters when they are called out. Would this turn out differently if the house was owned by a judge or police officer?

    • GearheadGeek says:

      I believe that in Colorado you can’t even properly file under adverse possession until you’ve been occupying the property for 18 years, having paid the property taxes all during that time because you actually believed that you owned the property. So yeah, since they didn’t have even a hint of the vaguest approximation of an adverse possession case they should’ve been summarily turned out when the real owners showed they are in fact the legal owners of the property and lived in it up to the point at which they temporarily moved out of state for work.

  19. Ilovegnomes says:

    If the real home owners have a mortgage on the place, I wonder if at this point it would be less expensive and less of a hassle to just stop paying every month and let the bank foreclose on the squatters.

  20. wackydan says:

    There is more than enough evidence now to show that the house was not abandoned and that the squatters are playing a game with the system…

    The sheriff’s dept is now not doing it’s job… period.

  21. KnightCrusader says:

    Talk about a turn for the bizarre…

    I’m calling it now… next development is we’ll find out Bank of America has filed for foreclosure on this property and doesn’t even hold the mortgage for it.

  22. dorrdon says:

    Are there no trespassing laws in Colorado? The police should be able to arrest the squatters for trespassing – shouldn’t they?

    I’m sure if the homeowners were famous that’s what would have happened.

    BTW: Found this on another site, re Colorado Trespassing laws:
    “Trespassing In the 3rd degree

    3rd degree trespassing is a Class 1 petty offense in most circumstances and carries a potential sentence of 6 months in jail and $500 in fines.

    You may be charged with this offense if you are accused of unlawfully entering or remaining on the property of another.
    Trespassing In the 2nd degree

    2nd degree trespassing is typically considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of $50. You may be charged with this crime if you unlawfully enter or remain on the fenced or walled property of another, enter or remain in the common areas of a hotel, or unlawfully enter or remain in the motor vehicle of another.
    Trespassing In the 1st degree

    1st degree criminal trespassing is a Class 5 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison and fines up to $100,000. If you are accused of unlawfully entering or remaining in a dwelling of another person or entering another’s vehicle with intent to commit a crime, you can be charged with this serious felony.”

    Seems to me the crime is grand theft, so this would be 1st degree criminal trespassing.

  23. Pete the Geek says:

    How long would the squatters have been allowed to stay in the Mayor’s house? The Chief of Police’s house? I think it would be measured in minutes, not months!

    • flychinook says:

      Let’s try it! I’ll sell you a deed (drawn up with genuine Crayola crayons) for 15 cents. Totally legit. Just tell the cops you didn’t know better.

      Now that I think of it, the home owners in the story should give this a try. Mayors go on vacation a lot. Give some homeless guy with nothing to lose $100 bucks for a “deed” to the Mayor’s house. Play dumb. Maybe the mayor will be able to put 2 and 2 together and finally get something done.

  24. Torchwood says:

    Why do I get the funny feeling that the Douche Squatter wants o drag this out for-ever?

  25. Thyme for an edit button says:

    It’s turning into Jarndyce v. Jarndyce!

  26. Difdi says:

    Wait, so if you’re bankrupt, you cannot be arrested for criminal trespassing?

    That’s some loophole! O.o

  27. kobresia says:

    The moral is: Don’t just walk away from your house for several months.

    The condition the owners left the place in made it pretty obvious it was vacant.

    Perhaps the owners could seek damages against the shady realtor who sold the bogus “adverse possession claim” to the squatters.

    It just doesn’t make any sense that the squatters’ bankruptcy has any bearing on the fact that they have no legal claim to the house they’re squatting in, though.

    • dcatz says:

      Irrelevant. It is their property and they can chose to not live in it for any reason they want.

      The squatters are worthless parasites. At this point, they know they are illegally occupying the house. They can no longer claim to be an innocent party because it has been proven that the house was not for sale.

      • kobresia says:

        It hurts the community when people abandon their homes for whatever reason. Shutting off all the utilities, failing to have someone keep-up the yard, and removing all the furniture and possessions is abandonment in all but title.

        Crime tends to go up in areas where properties are unkempt and vacant, and property values are driven down. It’s one thing if the place is kept up enough to make it look like it’s occupied or on the real estate market, but if all the furniture is gone and the lawn is overgrown, that’s just begging for someone to make better use of it.

        When you have derelict properties that are otherwise falling to ruin as absentee owners just don’t have enough consideration for the community in which their property is located, they’re the parasites. They’re letting everyone else try to rehab the area until it’s “nice enough” to consider putting on the market or beginning redevelopment or restoration. They’re letting everyone else be dragged-down with their neglect and blight, and squatters who take over and fix places like that up are a positive force.

        Not that what the squatters were doing was right, once they were informed that the house wasn’t abandoned and the owner was returning, they should’ve vacated. That they’re continuing to fight even though they’re in the wrong is another problem.

        I’m just saying it all could’ve been avoided if the owners had made it obvious they were not abandoning the house. Even keeping the place listed with a realtor’s sign out front helps them keep away any perceptions of abandonment, has someone keeping an eye on the place, and would have gotten would-be squatters thrown-out immediately.

        • wackydan says:

          The property was not abandoned. That is the distinction that is lost on you.

          I have a cabin/house up in the mountains… I may not get there but once a month… sometimes for two months… Doesn’t make it abandoned. If we use your definition then the minute I head out to the store, I abandon my dwelling.

  28. Costner says:

    This story is far from over. Eventually they will get these deadbeats (squatters) out of the house, but when the family finally gets to re-enter their own home they will find the squatters have caused tons of damage and they will probably strip everything of value from the home including appliances, copper water lines, light fixtures…. you name it.

    This shouldn’t even be a civil matter – it should be a crime to do what these d-bags are doing. I want their names to be spread far and wide so everyone knows who they are. What we really need is a “do not rent” list just where asshats like this can find themselves on and where it makes it nearly impossible for them to find a nice place to live in the future. People like this don’t deserve to live in nice places, and a van parked down by the river is probably too generous.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      A van parked IN the river would be better. *whistles while cutting the brake lines*

  29. The Beer Baron says:

    Bankruptcy? Bah. Bankruptcy proceedings do not intimidate me, and I can certainly declare emphatically that they do not in the least bit frighten my elephant gun.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Honorable Beer Baron, you’re a brick!*

      * Meant in the complimentary, British sense.

  30. HogwartsProfessor says:

    No, there are NOT two families who are victims. The squatters are not victims. They are THIEVES.

    These laws need to be abolished. You should not be able to just move into someone’s house and live there and keep them out. That’s outrageous. Things have changed since the days of claim jumping.

    • Actionable Mango says:

      Perhaps you didn’t read the original story. The squatters paid $5000 for a deed that was worthless. This makes them victims of fraud.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        True, but it’s become pretty obvious that they’re out their $5K. Now they KNOW that they’re hanging on to a house they don’t own, and they’re trying to get as much time in it as they can exploit by using the legal system against the legitimate owners. They’re no longer the victim, they’ve become the abuser.

        • Actionable Mango says:

          I agree they are abusing the system. But the future distasteful actions by unsympathetic people don’t erase the fact that they are victims of fraud. Even if someone becomes a genocidal mass-murderer, that person can still have been a victim of fraud.

      • Ilovegnomes says:

        Fraud? Maybe but I don’t feel sorry for them at all. If they’ve been in the house for 8 months for 5K, they got a deal. Where could you find a place in that city for rent, that large for that cheap? They technically aren’t out anything. Even if they started out as victims, now they are victimizing someone else. Definitely not cool. It’s time for them to move on.

  31. SilverBlade2k says:

    Why can’t the proper owners just sue the living daylights out of the squatters? Or get a restraining order from their property?

    • dcatz says:

      The squatters have nothing to take. At best, suing them would get you equitable relief (basically, non-monetary relief; it’s really more complicated but outside the scope of this topic). You can’t get blood from a turnip. And the shysters on both sides will drag out the litigation as long as possible so expect to pay 5-6 figures in legal fees.

      • shepd says:

        Then you renew the judgement, and you keep renewing and ensure that not a single one of them is ever left to live a satisfying life until they pay you. Garnish their every wage, hire a skiptracer, take their every possession, inform every credit agency, be involved in every transaction, and take everything–even photographs–from their estate, leave no stone unturned and no line uncrossed. Utilize your right to protection from libel if it’s the truth and advertise the scumbags and their exploits wherever they go.

        Frankly, I’d be livid enough I wouldn’t mind losing money doing this to them and their family. They WILL pay me or they WILL live in squalor forever and then their children will pay me if they want some family heirlooms to be saved from incineration. There’s a certain line you’d cross with me and it’s all out legal war with the only end in sight being when one of us can’t go to court anymore. This is one of those lines.

        Normally I’m a nice guy. But you take my home and the meanest son-of-a-bitch you ever met will see your ass in court.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      This whole story makes no sense.
      The police say they have no authority to kick anyone out of the house.
      The owners have documentation proving they own the house and they have an extra court order proving even more so they own the house.

      So why cant the owners just move back in around the squatters?? The cops have admitted they will not kick anyone out of the house.
      Then they can play annoying games harmless mind games with the squatters until they leave.

      If it were me, on day 1 I would have forcefully removed the squatters and none of this would have happened.

  32. JediQ says:

    And so does Colorado: “…any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.” 18-1-704.5 Use of deadly physical force against an intruder.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      This is why the true owners should not bust into the house and attempt to kick out the squatters themselves.

    • OthelloAndreus says:

      Exactly. So, why haven’t they done this?

      • sixsevenco says:

        Perhaps the squatters feel this applies to them. I’d bet they are armed and are prepared to used deadly physical force to defend their ‘right’ to live there.

        • iesika says:

          This. Until the court says otherwise (and yes, I know this is stupid, but it’s the law), the squatters are pretty much treated under the law as the rightful owners. Both sides have a deed, but only one side is currently living in the house, and the squatters are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

          The courts frown strongly on self-help in cases like these even when self-help doesn’t involve a shotgun.

          • SJActress says:

            Trespassing is an element that must be met.

            They do not have a deed as squatters. If they are successful as adverse possessors, a NEW deed will be created that will relate back to the time they began possessing the house, true, but there are not two valid deeds at this point, nor will there ever be.

            Adverse possession requires:

            Actual entry and open, notorious, continuous, and exclusive possession, adverse to the true owners and under a “claim of right” or “color of title” for the statutory period.

            Depending on the state, “claim of right” can be a good faith standard (“I thought this belonged to me”), an objective standard (state of mind is ignored), or an aggressive trespasser standard (“I know this isn’t mine, and I’m taking it”). Colorado follows the aggressive trespasser standard.

            These guys are total jerks, though. Adverse possession is not intended to benefit people like this, and not intended to punish true owners who are actively trying to get the possessors ejected. I feel sorry for the homeowners.

            • SJActress says:

              And, as a victim of not RTFA, I see they have this house under color of title. This makes it a much more sticky situation, and I hope the squatters didn’t accept a quitclaim deed. :/

          • Velvet Jones says:

            Did you even read the article? The squatters have been court ordered out of the house MULTIPLE times. Each time they refuse to leave. This people are absolute scum.

    • mspk1111 says:

      This is why the castle doctrine is so badass. In some states it extends to your vehicle. In a handful of states it is also known as the stand your ground law which pretty much means your castle is anywhere you are. because AMERICA

  33. Geekybiker says:

    The mind boggles on how these people weren’t tossed out for trespassing long long ago.

  34. dush says:

    I still don’t understand how the tresspassing isn’t criminal.
    Why is it just a civil matter?

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Because the thieving squatters wave their sheaf of invalid documents at the cops, who aren’t lawyers, so they say “Oh, both sides say they own it, let a judge decide.”

  35. Aliciaz777 says:

    Reading this story makes me mad. That town representative that said both the families are victims is very wrong. Only one family is a victim in all this, and it isn’t the squatters. The squatters are criminals.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      The town rep said that two families are victims. I’d agree with that.

      The homeowners are the first family.

      The friends whose basement they are living in is the second family.

      The squatters? No – not victims.

      • kobresia says:

        The squatters are victims, of the sleazy Realtor who sold them a bogus Deed o’ Squatting. It was a good sum to be defrauded of, even though rents are generally fairly high around this area as it is, making that still a good deal for the time they’ve been living there.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          OK, I’m definitely guilty of not RTFA.

          Three victims, then. Although, at some point, the “too good to be true” detector should have went off.

          • iesika says:

            But, if I recall, the squatters paid something like 8000 for the deed, while knowing that someone else owned the house. They knew this would be an adverse possession case from day one.

            I work in the legal system, and this kind of thing infuriates me. Somehow the law is too complicated and intimidating for most adults to be able to figure out how to split their assets in an amicable divorce, and the courts don’t make it any easier for them, yet crooks like this are able to figure out every last little trick to hold onto something they shouldn’t get. I did an eviction case a few months ago because a man’s ex-girlfriend was refusing to leave an apartment rented in his name, paid for by him, for which she had no lease or written rental agreement, and for which she was unwilling to pay rent when that option was offered. It took months, and it took my client over a thousand dollars (and we did it as cheaply as we could, but we have to keep the lights on and the bills paid in our crappy little office, and the court requires fees, etc.)

            • makoto says:

              Can you explain how someone can just walk up and buy a deed on house without the house having been sold/signed off by the owners? I have never bought a house. I’m a renter. Barely that even. Logistically, how did this happen?

        • Emily says:

          Please. They knowingly tried to take a property they knew didn’t belong to them… there was greed and immorality inherent in their initial act. Even if they were ignorant of the details of the legal arrangement, it doesn’t excuse their behavior. It’s like they were sold a bogus key that was supposed to help them rob a bank, and then whined about it because the key was fake.

          • kobresia says:

            I don’t want to be nation-ist or whatever, but based on the squatters’ names, there’s an excellent chance English is not their first language, they don’t understand the US legal system in any detail, and they were swindled by someone who claimed to be an expert. They really might not have understood it was a deal “too good to be true” and that they weren’t buying the home outright.

            It’s no excuse for their continued bad behavior, but there are several cottage industries around that part of Denver that exist only to swindle immigrants, and those folks are probably in a pretty bad spot.

    • Jchamberlain says:

      I was thinking the same thing as I read this. Why doesn’t the sheriff ask for proof of ownership as they would if ou were driving a stolen car? These squatters are thieves.

  36. 180CS says:

    I’m not saying it’s their fault, but if they had a home security system that could flood the house with pepper spray, this would have never happened in the first place…

    • GreySoul says:

      mmmm burglarbombs. Seriously… if I were going on an extended absence I might look into those systems, but for a daily defense against intruders I’d be far more afraid of tripping a false alarm on myself. http://burglarbomb.com/

  37. BigDragon says:

    This is never going to end. At this point if the laws in CO don’t allow the rightful owners to evict the trespassers by force then it’s time to make the property uninhabitable. Destroy the sewer lines, cause a fire, “renovate” something critical like the roof, sever power lines, flood the basement, randomly drop off a couple dozen rats or snakes, or find some other way to make the property uninhabitable. That will probably be cheaper to fix than to ride out the whole legal process given how badly the state and local jurisdictions have failed to act to protect the lawful, tax-paying owners. Is doing this against the law? Probably, but given how badly the local authorities have enforced the law so far I doubt they’ll suddenly get a backbone now. No jury in the country would fall on the side of these squatters anyway.

    • limbodog says:

      Pretty sure the article says the owners aren’t allowed near it.

      • makoto says:

        The owners aren’t but the neighbors are and I think a nice gift basket of snakes sounds like an excellent idea!

    • MarkFL says:

      Oh, sure…destroying the village to save it. Didn’t turn out well in Vietnam, won’t turn out well here.

    • GreySoul says:

      I was wondering about that myself… they can’t violate the restraining order … but they can legally prove they own the property… so call in a trashout team (like banks do when they foreclose and posses a home) and then have all the utilities shut off, tear out the plumbing, and remove a couple walls or a section of the roof – yeah, it’ll cost the rightful owners some serious money to repair it once the idiots leave, but what are they paying in legal costs and pain and suffering now? Then, go after the thief who conned the family living there illegally now, and maybe even the family, sue them and put liens on all anything they own, and if they try to hide assets sue the friends and family complicit in that, and turn the use of paper terrorism on someone who actually deserves it.

  38. Ashman says:

    This is total B.S. they are in posession of stolen property. case closed if you ask me.

    I see why they got he police involved this is a trespassing/theft issue and the police should be able to go in and arrest the trespassers.

    I could understand a squatter in a foreclosed house that is abandoned, but in this case the house was not abandoned.

    Should be cut and dry. Squatters need to go.

    • Steevo says:

      This is the problem with the whole legal system. The squatters have a fake deed or some such made by the sleazy realtor. They have plausible deniability.

      So now the situation is clouded enough the actual wronged parties, the homeowners whose real estate was essentially stolen have to pursue a criminal matter as a civil matter.

      Ridiculous.

      I knew a guy years ago, had some tenants in some property he owned. He was having trouble with them but they weren’t leaving.

      Some unknown person drove up one night and emptied a shotgun through the front window while the family was sitting there watching TV.

      They left right away as far as I know. No one ever found out who had shot out the front of the house.

      • bbb111 says:

        “This is the problem with the whole legal system. The squatters have a fake deed or some such made by the sleazy realtor. They have plausible deniability. ”

        One reason there has to be a system (although it is too slow) and the police cannot believe a deed waved at them is that the situation could be the other way around. [What if it was a valid deed and the previous owners had sellers remorse and tried to reverse the sale? Even worse if their “adviser” had told them that they could reverse it by filling out the forms he sold them.]

        A slightly different situation, but it is an example of the situation being reversed:

        I knew someone who had a valid one year lease and the owner decided to evict them after two months to sell the house. The first eviction attempt was thrown out of court when the tenants showed up with a signed lease. For the second attempt the landlord served different documents to the tenant than were filed with the court. The tenant missed the court date and found out when the new eviction notice showed up. The process server was called in and when the judge compared the served documents to the filed documents he was very angry – – – the eviction was reversed and the landlord charged with contempt of court.

  39. dragonfire81 says:

    If I was the homeowner in question I would probably resort to stronger measures to get the squatters out of the house I LEGALLY OWN.

    • wackydan says:

      I’m willing to bet if the homeowners made that threat public the local authorities might actually weigh the facts a bit more on their side…

      It would be… “you can either evict them, or my friends and I will, take your pick – there is overwhelming evidence that they are not legally residing in said dwelling”.

    • soj4life says:

      If I was the homeowners, I would just have some of my buddies dress up as ICE agents, bang on the door at 3 am in the morning and scare the shit out of this family to get them off the property.

  40. quieterhue says:

    Clearly the takeaway here is that if you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time, be sure to rig it with an array of Home Alone-style booby traps.

    Since it’s obvious that state law does nothing to protect the homeowner here. Gross.

  41. ninabi says:

    I think about what friends who are landlords do- when they have tenants from hell that won’t leave when they are supposed to, they give them a small amount of money (or refund their deposit) to get them on their way.

    Yes, the squatters are in the wrong and making life hell for the owners. But given the legal costs and the massive waste of time, would it be cheaper to offer the squatters money to GTFO?

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      That’s sadly probably the only thing that might work at this point, but remember that the homeowner has been having to pay rent and some legal fees thus far and is probably broke. I imagine the squatters would want at least their $8000 back.

  42. Golfer Bob says:

    Just watched Breaking Bad. Hire a company to come in and tent the house for extermination / fumigation. Everyone has to get out for several days, cancel the job, then the rightful owners can get back in, change the locks and tell the squatting criminals to go pound sand.

    • Golfer Bob says:

      Borrowing from my Breaking Bad theory, I would just move in and live there, a la the not divorced Walt calmly grading papers while the police stand there. Not touch them or harass them, just live there side by side. “You going to finish that sandwich?” “Please leave me some hot water for a shower once I’m done cleaning my toenails here on the dining room table.” Yeah, let’s see how long that would last.

    • doe334 says:

      I really like this fumigation idea…………now will it work since they’ve thrown in the Bankruptcy wrinkle?…..As far as them possibly not having good english and getting “fooled” into buying this….since they filed for that very timely bankruptcy…I think either they know a lawyer, have a lawyer amongst them, or have a good enough grasp of english to be able to figure out how to keep squatting there for while longer. Fumigation though……I’ll remember that just in case :)

  43. kobresia says:

    A current property tax receipt or mortgage in your name should be enough to establish ownership. The lack of a rental contract, or any other contract with the actual owners should be enough to establish that the squatters have no legal claim to be there and that they are trespassing. End of story, this really shouldn’t be so difficult.

    I wish the news folks would stop saying Adverse Possession laws are “little-known”. The concept is really fairly well-known since the land-grabbers Edith Stevens and Richard McLean exercised it against the owners of a long-vacant lot adjacent to their home.

    I also wish someone would exercise adverse possession against some neighbors’ former home; I feel sorry for them, the way their house burned-down several months ago, but it’s starting to look like they just walked away, leaving burned-out, trash-filled wreckage, not even having the courtesy to scrape the ruins and haul-off all the trash. I’m not going to do anything about it, because I wouldn’t try to seize land from neighbors I know, but it really tries the patience to pick-up all the wind-blown, partially-burned rubbish that is constantly coming out of there.

    That’s really the sort of situation laws like this are meant to address, if someone walks-away from a property, it allows someone else to rehabilitate the blight and take possession from the absentee owner.

    Partially-abandoned property, which is completely vacant and overgrown, is a grey area. I think it’s a bit parasitic of an absentee owner to walk away, leaving the burden on the community to raise property values so they can sell it when the “market picks up”, while saddling the community with the added burden of an obviously vacant property.

    I’m not one of the folks who believes land is no good unless it’s being developed, but once land has been developed and is no longer wild, I think there should be only two options for people who wish to maintain ownership: return it to the wild (“undeveloping” it) or put the place to use. Even if it’s a vacation home, it should be fairly obvious someone occupies the place and it is not vacant.

  44. attackgypsy says:

    I hate to be a jerk here, but these people have suffered enough…

    A canister of tear gas (or whatever equivalent is legal to get) 2-3 times a week at different times would eventually get rid of them.

    Wanna bet they never call the cops?

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Well, they swore a restraining order against the rightful owners of the property, so they might in face call the police about someone lobbing in tear gas.

      • Chairman-Meow says:

        Not to mention that SOMEONE is helping them as they knew to file Bankruptcy at the 11th hour in order to prolong them living there.

        • soj4life says:

          They are being represented by Colorado Christian Defense Counsel. Nothing like a crooked lawyer to abuse religion.

    • limbodog says:

      I’d take that bet. I think they feel that the law (by way of a loophole) is on their side. Wrongly, of course, but still.

      • Jchamberlain says:

        Ithe original article indicated some rental or purchase agreement with a sleazy rental agent. I’m wondering where they are getting money for legal bills since they are now bankrupt.

        • SavijMuhdrox says:

          i get the feeling if they somehow ‘acquired the house’ then the sleazy realtor would screw the squatters over and resell it. He is, after all.. a sleazy realtor.

          but me personally, after 8 months of this crap.. i’d take the matter into my own hands.. with some friends.. and a bat.

  45. do-it-myself says:

    I would just keep watch until they left and move my self right back in…while hiring a company to move all of their things into the street with an extremely large sign that says “FREE” attached. If they took my house, then I’d take it back!

  46. There is a cure says:

    (IANAL) It would seem that the best course of action would be to sue for damages. Name the squatters, realtor, and especially the city and the county in the suit. The refusal to enforce trespassing laws has resulted in considerable expenses including what could be substantial legal fees. I think the standard penalty is to ask for any expense that can be attributed to the negigence plus tripple as punitive damages. The squatters are not tennants who would be protected by bankruptcy laws, and need to be “evicted”. They need to be arrested. If you are cought buying stolen property, you will be arrested, this is only different in that they are using the police to do their dirty work, and prevent the property owner from posessing their property.

    This is not simply a rant. The credible threat of consequences for this type of behavior is the only means of preventing it’s continuation and/or repeat.

  47. There is a cure says:

    (IANAL) It would seem that the best course of action would be to sue for damages. Name the squatters, realtor, and especially the city and the county in the suit. The refusal to enforce trespassing laws has resulted in considerable expenses including what could be substantial legal fees. I think the standard penalty is to ask for any expense that can be attributed to the negigence plus tripple as punitive damages. The squatters are not tennants who would be protected by bankruptcy laws, and need to be “evicted”. They need to be arrested. If you are cought buying stolen property, you will be arrested, this is only different in that they are using the police to do their dirty work, and prevent the property owner from posessing their property.

    This is not simply a rant. The credible threat of consequences for this type of behavior is the only means of preventing it’s continuation and/or repeat.

  48. dolemite says:

    I’m not seeing the 2nd set of “victims” here. They paid some shyster on the street money for a home that already had ownership. If a guy walks up to me and sells me the Brooklyn Bridge for $200, I can’t go and block traffic and charge everyone a $20 toll to cross my bridge. Once the judge told the family to leave, they are trying all kinds of tactics to prevent the legitimate owners from moving into their house. The squatters are not victims.

  49. mcgyver210 says:

    Seems I remember reading at some point the original owners haven’t been paying the mortgage for quite awhile so when they finally get possession it wouldn’t surprise me if they are foreclosed on next.

    Now with all that said the squatters & the guy that stole the house are all Criminals IMO & they are lucky they didn’t try this on someone that would just defend their property. I think best outcome would be dead squatters for trespassing & theft but our laws don’t approve unless it is a LEO or Obama doing the killing.

    • Kuri says:

      LEO?

    • soj4life says:

      They are two months behind because they all they can get is temp work right now, they don’t want to start working for a place 65 miles away or screw over that employer when they quit a few weeks after being hired. The biggest shame in this story is the rightful owners of the property barely have enough money to file with the court, but the squatters have a crummy lawyer that knows they are breaking the law and delaying the process as much as he can. Douglas Romero needs to be disbarred for his conduct.

  50. 401k says:

    The squatters stopped being victims when they file for bankruptcy to avoid having to return possession of the property over to its rightful owners.

    They had very little sympathy from me before. After that move they get none.

  51. ancientone567 says:

    I would just walk into my house and say oh look intruders and shoot them dead! Hope they have stand your ground law! I would double tap them for go measure because he was reaching for something… I swear!

  52. lee says:

    guess the first time this happens you take the legal route the second time if it Ever happens again you take the more direct approach (mobile phone jammers and cut the phone line {so they cant call the cops} and then move in to remove them from your property and drop them far away dispose of the contents inside the house legally{skip for example} )

  53. frodolives35 says:

    As this is an extreme circumstance it seems extreme measures are in order. It would not surprise me if a couple of very large bikers would for a reasonable fee convince the squatters moving might be in their best interest. Hopefully they would throw in the scumbag rental agent for free. When the law fails to provide justice in a timely manor who could blame them for a little forced self help. If I was on the jury it would be NOT GUILTY for the true owners if they took this course of action.

    • soj4life says:

      I saw have a couple of friends dress up as ICE agents, and bang on the door at 3am. Scream this out”Este es el ICE, Tienes un minuto para salir de las instalaciones antes de que nos lance el culo de este país.”

  54. PupJet says:

    Have the actual property owners went to the place where you can get a COPY of the TITLE/DEED to the land to prove this, or am I just shooting in the dark here?

    If my comment is indeed correct: Then both of these people are idiots for not doing so in the FIRST place to prove ownership of the property (yes, even if it was NOT sold, it is still in the title/deed of the land that the person(s) own the property).

    If not: Well, just wait and see.

  55. jacobs cows says:

    Time for the glock.

  56. eldergias says:

    I must be missing something here. I don’t see how the squatters can get away with this since the owners were not gone for very long. If I break into someone’s house in the middle of the night, I can’t just claim I live there and keep the police from arresting me. They will drag me out of the house in cuffs.

    What is to stop the homeowners from breaking in, and moving in? The police could not kick them out of the home since the homeowners could prove they own the home and the squatters can’t prove they are renting or own the home.

    Also, adverse possession claims require living in a place for several years. The squatters have no idea what they are talking about.

  57. soj4life says:

    This problem could have been solved by the PD on the first day. Farva could have called his chief to find out the how long the squatters needed to live at the property. After being told it is 18 years, he should have sent them packing or arrested them.

  58. Invader Zim says:

    Wow this is a whole new level of creepy.

  59. J-Mac says:

    How the hell could the squatters get a temporary restraining order against the owners when they entered to take photos to document the condition of the home, yet the owners don’t seem to be able to get any such order against the squatters? Who enforced the squatters’ TRO? The local police? The same police who claim that they cannot get involved in this “civil matter”?

    This would be hilarious if it weren’t real. It’s no wonder anymore why folks pick up guns and start shooting in Colorado.

  60. Obtruder says:

    These people do not own the damned house, how are they allowed to stay there? Im pretty sure this is trespassing, pure and simple.

  61. Bog says:

    Truthfully, I would ignore the civil TRO and take forcefull action to remove them from my house. There isn’t all that much teeth to the civil order anyway. And yes I have been sacntioned for using violence.

  62. Alex d'Indiana says:

    Gah CO state law sucks.

  63. hugothebear says:

    But it was never their house.
    WTF is wrong with people?

  64. OlafMunippus says:

    “TWO families who are victims in this case.”?

    Really? since when is a thief who steals your home a victim?!

  65. Mr Grey says:

    I don’t get it. The squatters have been found to be illegally living in the house – the dead holder of record has been verified by the courts – this seems more like a case of trespassing, than an eviction.

    I also fail to see how filing for bankruptcy will get the trespassers the house – they have already been proven to NOT OWN IT.

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      You are correct, however what’s going on here is they are exploiting protections meant for law-abiding citizens to extend their stay in the stolen home. No one really doubts that they’ll get kicked out, but unfortunately the law says that if you file bankruptcy, a bankruptcy judge has to decide what’s right and wrong. He/She will obviously find that they can’t keep the stolen home, it’s just a matter of time.

      It’s kind of like the jewel thief fleeing the crime scene and making it to the swiss embassy. The embassy has to go through due process before they can hand over said jewel thief which might buy him a few hours to arrange his next move. (I see the movie in my head).