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Dealing With Squatters

Dear Phyllis,
I love your Dear Abby-like real estate advice column. Not to go on a rant but during COVID my tenants didn’t pay rent for six months. They finally moved out of my La Crescenta rental. Then while I was having the home painted it became occupied by vagrants. Have you ever encountered this situation, and if so, how did you handle it?

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for your kind words! Dealing with vagrants who occupy your rental property can be challenging. I am sorry that you are in this situation. Unfortunately, I have encountered this several times throughout my real estate career.

About 10 years ago, I was selling a Sunland foreclosure and squatters broke in. I contacted the police, who kicked them out and had the property boarded up. The squatters came back and removed the nails in the boards. The police returned, removed the squatters and we had the home boarded again. This time the boarding company screwed the boards in.

Another client of mine had squatters in her Pasadena home and the police removed them. The squatters returned to the home, broke in and left all the water on in retaliation. Thus, if you have the home boarded ask the company to screw the boards in. In addition, enlist the neighbors’ help. Ask them to keep a watchful eye on the home. I am confident that they don’t want vagrants in their neighborhood.

Several years ago I had this happen again, this time in a vacant probate property in Highland Park. The administrator was a probation officer who was no-nonsense. He went to the home and, when he saw crack pipes, told the woman that he would call child services if she didn’t vacate in two days. She left. I would caution you not to use this approach.

Notify the local police department about the situation. The police can guide you on the appropriate course of action. If the police don’t help, you should contact an eviction attorney.

I wish you success with your situation.