Nationwide battle between squatters and property owners
Virginia home sold for $805K with squatters living in the basement
Housing prices increased by almost 19% last year, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index. Even though CNN reports that this was the biggest increase in 34 years of data (and substantially ahead of 2020's 10.4% gain), I still wasn’t quite prepared for the news of a Realtor selling a home with a squatter living inside for $805K.
It wasn’t even a secret to the prospective buyers. Zillow openly stated, “NO ACCESS to see lower level and Home sold AS IS, ONLY with acknowledgment that home will convey with a person(s) living in lower level with no lease in place.” WUSA confirms that the home was built in 1964 and was last sold in 1997 for $319K. Although the homeowner Thomas Burke (a 79-year-old man in the hospital headed toward hospice care) apparently did not charge rent, it appears that a woman and her daughter were allowed to live there because they had “no place else to go.”
According to the American Apartment Owners Association, states like Louisiana and New Jersey don’t uphold squatters’ rights until the squatter has lived on the property for 30 years. Meanwhile, Arkansas, California and Montana put squatters’ rights into effect after a mere five years.
“Three years ago, a woman was cleaning the senior owner’s house and she convinced him that she needed a place to stay,” Zinta Rodger-Rickert, the leasing agent, said to the NY Post. “So he offered her the basement, but then she never left. And she does not pay rent.”
Although that may be the case, I couldn’t wrap my mind around why someone would even want to stay in a place after the owner was long gone, knowing it would be sold to someone else who would have the financial backing to evict her. But then two other incidents came to mind:
A family member slept in her car while she fought in eviction court over a shady “landlord’s” lease.
What if the “squatter” was the equivalent of Robyn in “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”?
Now? I’m not so sure I agree with my own opinion anymore.