Homeowner Discovers Squatters The Night Before Closing On House Sale

(CBS Miami)

A Florida woman says the sale of her childhood home is now in jeopardy after squatters were discovered living in the property on the night before the sale was supposed to close.

The homeowner recently inherited the property after her mother passed away. But when the realtor stopped by on the eve of closing to do a final walk-through, she found that a couple had moved into the house and were claiming to be legal renters of the home.

“I show up and there are people outside and the door is open and I’m like what’s going on? Why are people in this house? I go up to them and ask them excuse me who are you?” the realtor tells Miami’s CBS4.

One of the tenants showed what she claimed was a cash receipt for rent. Calls by CBS to the supposed landlord go to a store where no one claims to know the man.

“That’s what these squatters do,” explains City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to CBS4. “They gain possession. They change the locks. They act as if they have justifiable reasons for being there.”

Sarnoff confirms what we’ve heard in other cities, that once the squatter provides some sort of document — whether it’s real or not, the police tend to treat it like a civil matter. Thus, the homeowner usually has to lawyer-up and go to court to get their own property back.

And that’s exactly what the homeowner in this case had to do.

“Here this is my house that I own and that I am paying taxes on and I am the one having to go to an attorney,” she says.

The realtor has attempted to file burglary reports on the squatters, alleging that they have stolen “For Sale” signs placed in the yard and broken a lockbox belonging to the realtor. But the squatters tell police they are the victims.

“It’s a mother and child. Even the owners wouldn’t want to kick them out. I don’t think anyone even the owners would want to put this family out on the street,” a police sergeant assumed when speaking to CBS4.

We’re guessing that sergeant has not spoken to the homeowner, who says in no uncertain terms, “I want them out of my house.”

Yesterday, a judge gave the squatters 40 days to leave the house. And since the water has already been shut off, he asked the homeowner if she would consider having it turned back on if the squatters paid a security deposit.

Surprisingly, the buyers have not yet walked away from the sale. They must be getting a good deal if they’re willing to wait at least another 40 days to move into a house that has been occupied by squatters.