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Taking a move from the financial predators some squatters have used a novel approach to preclude eviction. They have filed a restraining order against the real estate agent to keep her from harassing them.

I understand that some here will get their panties in a wad over this but I do find this move to be hilarious. With major corporations like Monsanto bankrupting farmers for their own amusement it is refreshing to see the law being wielded by the people as well.

As many as three people have been living in the Concord home since December. Even though the owner never gave them permission to move in, they're apparently not moving out without a fight.

Real estate agent Melissa Case said she can't get too close to the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home she's listed for sale in Antioch because the unauthorized residents took her to court.

"I have a temporary restraining order against me right now," Case said. "I cannot come within 50 yards of the home, which was filed by the squatters."

In this pirate economy the people being oppressed by those with economic power can and will find novel ways of getting back at the omnipresent power brokers. Keeping them at bay using the law is just a polite way to tell them their methods suck.

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Comment Preferences

  •  While I would applaud this move, IF it were (31+ / 0-)

    being made by foreclosed homeowners, in their own home...

    I'm having a lot of trouble seeing these squatters as 'heroes' in this case.

    Just move into an empty house and tell the lawful Real Estate agent to fuck off, you live here now?

    That seems pretty extreme to me.

    NOW, if the government (city, county, state), wants to take foreclosed homes (taken by the government for failure to pay property taxes) -and instead of selling them at auction, allowing homeless families to live in them... that, too, I would support.

    But this situation?

    That is the road to chaos, and I think we've all had enough of that, already.

    * * *
    I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization
    -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr.
    * * *
    "A Better World is Possible"
    -- #Occupy

    by Angie in WA State on Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 11:06:20 PM PDT

    •  Not sure here... (6+ / 0-)

      but I remember when a lot of starving-artist types were "homesteading" in some of the worst areas of Alphabet City, NYC.

      The buildings had been effectively abandoned, and the artists/downtown types moved in, probably rigged up illegal electrical cables, and made the buildings livable.

      This was long before trendy restaurants were moving east...it was back when to traverse that neighborhood at night was to pass lines waiting to get into drug houses, and be offered "Works! Works!" when you were just trying to get to that excellent and very cheap (but unfortunately located) restaurant.

      I call him Rick Scumtorum because he IS scum: pond scum, with the brain of an alga.

      by Youffraita on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 12:06:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am an NYC landlord... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        ...and I will tell you the reason for the squatting.

        NYC rental regulations are very strict. It costs a ton of money to bring a building up to code, and when you get a tenant, the tenant gets powerful legal rights (SRO, Rent Stabilization, Warranty of Habitability) that make eviction for non-payment very difficult.

        Signing a lease with an NYC tenant is a Big Commitment. This person is someone who will be a part of your life for a long, long, time. It is legally easier to divorce your spouse in NYC than evict your tenant. You don't rent to just anybody!

        But, this works out fine, just pass the costs along and raise the rent. And that's what we do.

        But in poor neighborhoods, the people can't afford these higher rents. So it is cheaper to let the building sit empty.

        There are thousands of empty units in NYC. The landlords pay taxes on them and wait for:

        1) New technology that makes fixing them up cheaper.
        2) People to get rich enough to afford higher rent.
        3) Regulations to be slackened, so we can rent low-quality places for low rents.

        So, the building is empty. And the squatters come.

      •  This hardly sounds like the same situation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Angie in WA State

        If someone is trying to sell the house and an agent is trying to show it, it is not abandoned.

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 04:17:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  homes that are foreclosed (4+ / 0-)

      and unmaintained by their bankster owners are something honest citizens do NOT want to live next to.

      The people who gut houses they don't own to steal copper and electrical wire and fixtures are not nice people. And once these houses decline to combustible shells, fires set to them by people who are partying or trying to squat without electricity can spread.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 03:52:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We're already well on our way on the road (3+ / 0-)

      to chaos, caused by the banks, financial institutions and elected "leaders" who put profits before people. I got no problem with homeless folks moving into foreclosed houses. Should have happened a long time ago.

      Apparently no one here, not surprising, is familiar with the movement that places homeless families and individuals in empty houses. Take Back the Land Movement:

      http://takebacktheland.org/

    •  I agree with this analysis. (5+ / 0-)

      Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

      by Smoh on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 05:40:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm surprised you aren't advocating robberies yet. (8+ / 0-)

    You know, some people are probably part of 1% and deserved to be robbed. Or smth like that.

    •  superfluous (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      As economic opportunities and conditions continue to decline for the 99% and the safety net continues to be shredded, violent crime is going to increase and the targets will be the people who have the money.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 03:54:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, if a house is not locked (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, maybeeso in michigan

      and "breaking and entering" can't be proved, then the owner of a house has to prove that anyone, who enters, was not invited in to get him/her out. That's the law.  If the locks were broken, then it would still have to be proved that the person who entered did the breaking.  So, it helps if someone in the neighborhood witnessed the perps in the act.
      Having a burglar alarm installed and activated does provide evidence, if someone enters, that the entry was not permitted. Burglar alarms don't prevent burglaries; they just help prove (to the insurance company) that a crime occurred.
      It's likely that people who are letting houses sit unoccupied aren't paying for the burglar alarm service either.  When electronic alarms were first installed, police departments allowed them to be hooked into their communications systems.  That turned out to be a really bad idea, if only because of all the false alarms that people set off because they forgot they'd turned the alarm on. So that became a private service.
      Currently, we have the elderly handicapped tied into 9/11 centers in case they have an emergency.  Which is why we have EMTs responding to help some very fat people get off the pot (literally).

      Everyone should take a turn at a local government office so they can learn what it really involves. Independence is a grand illusion.

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 04:26:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That basically means that squatters may not be (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IndieGuy, nextstep

        prosecuted for squatting. That's interesting but doesn't make what they do legal.

      •  If it's your property (4+ / 0-)

        and you order a person off it and they refuse to leave, that's ordinarily called trespassing and the trespasser can be arrested and removed.

        •  True, but it has to be the owner or (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Horace Boothroyd III

          an officially designated representative and there has to be a warning for law enforcement to act.  Not to mention that the trespass has to involve some damage (property is more important than person in the law).  In this case, since the court has sided with the squatters, there's a likely question of adverse possession.  If one lets someone use property without objection, then the user acquires an interest and can claim to have been, in effect, gifted.
          We have a neighbor whom we let use our driveway from time to time.  However, we've insisted that they ask permission each time.

          People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

          by hannah on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 08:18:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not in Landlord-Tenant law. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tardis10

            This depends on the state, local mileage will vary.

            If you let someone move into your house, they usually acquire a new set of tenant rights that will supersede your property rights.

            You can't just call the cops, like you would for a trespasser. You must follow your states eviction procedures.

            A determined squatter can drag this process out for a year or more, while living for free the whole time.

    •  DBAD. nt (0+ / 0-)

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 08:18:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a REALTOR (28+ / 0-)

    I would like to comment that most of US are in the 99 percent right now too.  Many of my coworkers have lost their homes to foreclosure and I have been teetering on the edge of losing mine for about 2 years, working 80 plus hour weeks at both full time real estate and part time IT consulting gigs just to keep my head barely above water financially.  

    My husband, an architect, has also been hit by the recession so badly that he routinely works until 2, 3 or 4 a.m. to get plans done so that he can get a check from the clients the next morning so that we can pay the electricity before it gets cut off, the car payment before they send the repo men, etc.

    A real estate agent's job is super f-ing hard and requires huge outlays of cash to keep license current, pay for lock box access, MLS access, necessary marketing materials, broker "desk rent" (which is required whether you rent an actual desk or work from home, as it is considered part of their profits), etc.  We often don't get paid because people consider us some kind of public service or something and will use our time up and then inform us that they will actually buy the house from someone else (their brother's girlfriends' sister's husband blah blah blah).  We are expected to answer the phone at all hours of the day and night (I've been called from Hong Kong at 3 a.m.) and to work on Saturdays and Sundays as well as all the other days, including working in the evenings many times.

    As an example of how frustrating this business is, I currently have a listing. I personally carted linens, towels, decorative items, paintings, even a coffee table over to his house to decorate it so it would look better in pictures.  I even cleaned the tub and toilet before the brokers open house because he didn't do what he said he would do.  I got an all cash full price offer and did a lot of work preparing the paperwork for the short sale.  And now he decided he doesn't want to sell after all, so I get diddly squat.

    I agree with the previous poster -- I LOVE it when someone who owns the house gets even with the bank, but please don't pick on real estate agents --- we are just trying to do our job and hopefully do it in a way that allows the homeowners to keep their dignity when it is a short sale.  Except for the rare "super agents", most REALTORS do not make that much money and work very long hours for the money they do get.  It isn't funny for someone to then hit them with this kind of stupid lawsuit.

    Go Bernie Sanders! You are what a politician should be!

    by Former Chicagoan Now Angeleno on Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 11:49:05 PM PDT

  •  I was a Realtor (7+ / 0-)

    and think she should have backed off OR tried to talk to them. A nice person could easily incentivize squatters to go out for the day while the house is being shown. She could promise to find them another good arrangement, or help them with groceries, or jobs. It's not the slick capitalist model, but it's the sort of thing that I'd have done as a Bay Area realtor making peanuts at best in this situation.

    At any RE office, about 1-3 agents are going to be 1%... a fair amount will be the 99%.... and the rest are so poor they've probably considered squatting in one of those houses too... ;) Especially the ones with a pool!

    Heidi ho!

    Did the Realtor pose a threat to their lives? If she threatened to harm anyone physically there, I take a less rosy stance about this. Otherwise, she's a stone cold "person who isn't real nice" (pick your favorite euphamism).

    You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

    by mahakali overdrive on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 12:03:29 AM PDT

  •  This is theft. (18+ / 0-)

     These squatters didn't make any payments for the home. They've simply stolen it from the rightful owner. I could see people refusing to leave their foreclosed homes after they've made a bunch of payments to the bank, or people squatting in abandoned buildings.
      If this becomes common, who will build or buy a home? Who will finance one?
      If this is okay, how about if somebody steals your car? Certainly, that's sticking it to the man. How about your identify?

  •  There was a theory, propounded as (3+ / 0-)

    "The Tragedy of the Commons," which sought to provide a rational basis for why individual ownership of land and resources is better for everyone.  The argument rested on the notion that people take better care of things they own because they have a personal interest in keeping it safe and whole.
    Whatever the intent of the proponent of this theory, a history of abandoned property left in ruins has now shown this theory to be wrong. Some people live in chaos, regardless of whether it's of their own making or someone else's.  The good thing about chaotic tenants is that they can be thrown out. Chaotic property owners are much harder to deal with. Middlemen, unfortunately, don't make it any better.  People hire real estate managers so they don't have to deal with the nitty gritty of ownership and just collect income and profit as it happens along.
    Why the law should take special consideration of such lazy people and continue to "protect and serve" property that the owners have virtually abandoned is a good question to ask. The suggestion that the agents of government should just take the property that's been effectively abandoned is unrealistic because residential property management is not something they've been set up to handle under our system. While we do have public residential facilities, those are typically managed by housing authorities or similar entities because housing management is rather specialized.  Not to mention that so-called "single family" housing on separate parcels of land is really inefficient (why young people are moving back to the cities where services are centrally delivered).
    People have got to get over the notion that owning property gives them the right to just leave it parked (also applies to cars) and expect that the community at large will be responsible for keeping it safe and inviolate.

    If the owners of property do not want squatters, they can move to have them evicted by our agents of law enforcement.  A real estate sales person is not a property manager.  A property manager may charge as much as 25% of the monthly rent and get authorization to make any necessary repairs at the owner's expense.  Add in the cost of liability insurance and interest owed to the bank, property owners are finding it cheaper to just let houses sit empty.  If squatters take advantage of people who are trying to take advantage of the community at large, it serves them right.

    ownership = obligation

    That's not how it's been sold, but that's how it is.

    Ditto for representation

    representation = obligation

    Many of our representatives aren't happy about that, either.  But, there it is. If you don't want to serve, don't get hired.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 04:08:17 AM PDT

    •  you don't have the theory right. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, erush1345, FG

      the tragedy of the commons is about overconsumption of public goods.it doesn't speak to failure to upkeep private property.

      •  There won't be overconsumption (0+ / 0-)

        if there's proper stewardship and restoration. Wanton destruction and waste is where tragedy resides and that has nothing to do with ownership, except when the fact that ownership is an obligation is ignored.
        When obligations aren't met, it doesn't make any difference whether the freeloaders are many or few.

        People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

        by hannah on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 06:19:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The cited realtor says in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, ManhattanMan

    the article that this is "epidemic" in Antioch.If so,then perhaps someone should have a business wherein they live in empty houses & show them? A kind of house-sitting? Now,in truth,I know this is a business that exists in a few forms.Not so much from fear of squatters but because it is easier to sell a house that is not empty.
    Longer-term,I think this story is just the tip of the iceberg for where things may be headed. I think many of our "leaders" would agree.That is yet another reason we have the militarized police forces we do.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 04:08:30 AM PDT

    •  It is not that easy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      If you allow somebody to live in your house, they usually acquire rights as tenants.

      Depending on the state, these rights can bankrupt you.

      Example: I own an empty, run-down house in a bad neighborhood. Out of kindness, I let a poor family stay there for $1 per month.  

      But if there is a problem with the heat, electricity, or water, I will be liable. So I cannot charge $1, I must charge $500 -- enough to cover me in case the tenants turn evil and start filing complaints against me. Or restraining orders.

      •  Yes,as a landlord I am well (0+ / 0-)

        aware of all that. But as you likely know,there are indeed services that will stage property and in some cases, humans come along as paid caretakers or short term tenants.
        All that said,I think this whole article is too poorly written/researched to understand what is actually going on in this case. Although I doubt that Antioch has an epidemic of squatters.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 10:16:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Would you buy a house (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      that had squatters living in it? And then have the burden of trying to remove them?

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 04:23:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would depend on (0+ / 0-)

        the price of the property. If you're suggesting that the property would be less valuable occupied by squatters than empty,certainly I generally agree.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 04:40:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  On what theory of law did they get the order? (10+ / 0-)

    Because I can't think of one, unless they have been in the house long enough to pass the statue of limitations for open, hostile & notorious adverse possession.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 05:11:34 AM PDT

  •  I don't care squat. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 05:14:14 AM PDT

  •  Ya, my "panties are in a wad" (16+ / 0-)

    You think this funny, I don't.

    In this pirate economy the people being oppressed by those with economic power can and will find novel ways of getting back at the omnipresent power brokers. Keeping them at bay using the law is just a polite way to tell them their methods suck.
    The only person being truly harmed here is the homeowner. From the looks at that house, he's probably a 99%'er. His mortgage is underwater. He's apparently worked with the bank to sell his home under a short sale. Do you know how that works? If he sells his home for $20K less than what his mortgage is, he walks away with a $20K debt that he still owes the bank, but his credit rating is maintained and he's not marked for life with a foreclosure.

    Now, because of these squatters, who have illegally forged a fraudulent rental agreement, he is likely to go to foreclosure. If that happens, his credit is screwed for a very long time.

    Ya, this is great for the 99%. NOT

  •  What an abysmally stupid thing to do. (6+ / 0-)

    This is theft, pure and simple.

    All this sort of thing does is to alienate the very members of the 99% who would be most likely to support the movement.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.." - John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961. We are the 99%.

    by IndieGuy on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 08:35:28 AM PDT

  •  The issue is that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III

    individuals make decisions that are detrimental to the greater good of the country as a whole.

    In this country it is considered a "property right", that is, a right which property owners can freely choose to exercise, to allow your property to sit unoccupied and unmaintained until it uninhabitable, becomes a drain on tax dollars directly, and must be demolished. There is no corresponding obligation to the public that comes from property ownership.

    Individual property owners collectively have decided to destroy the country's housing stock, because for each individual it makes financial sense to do so. Taxpayers are being forced to subsidize this behavior.

    I see no sign this will change.

    I live next door to a house that has essentially no owner. The most recent owner of record died. The house was not probated. Her husband walked away from it. There were multiple mortgages. Someone is mowing the lawn, but the city does not know who is paying the taxes, just that they are being paid. Someone would buy the house, as it is in a good location and I frequently am asked about who owns it. It is probably not in good condition inside, though. Should it remain vacant until it falls down, and then have the taxpayers and neighbors take the hit?

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