In the wake of the foreclosure crisis, it wasn’t uncommon to read reports of shuttered homes occupied by opportunistic squatters looking for a free place to crash. But some squatters don’t wait for the homeowners to move out first, CBS4’s Rick Sallinger reports.
Troy Donovan and his family returned to their Denver, Colo. home after an extended trip to find the house occupied by another couple.
In their eight-month absence, a rogue realtor named Alfonso Carillo allegedly sold the property to a pair of unsuspecting buyers.
Carillo sold the home for $5,000 under the pretense of “adverse possession,” an umbrella law for squatters rights that can be evoked if property owners fail to claim their land for a certain stretch of time. The law varies state by state, but requires 18 years of possession in Colorado.
The Donovans, who were forced to move into their relative’s basement, went to court to evict the couple. A judge ruled on Thursday that the adverse possession clause did not apply and ordered the couple to leave within 48 hours.
“We get to get out of the basement, get a full home to live in,” Donovan’s wife, Dayna, told CBS. “A home we created and worked very hard in as well.”
Abandoned homes are easy targets for schemes like these, and foreclosed properties are even more susceptible with no homeowners around to defend their turf. In the Donovans’ case, they lucked out when neighbours became suspcious of the new owners and tipped them off.
As with any extended vacation or time away from your home, it’s wise to have friends, family or neighbours check in on the property from time to time.