Cash For Keys and Other Disasters *Update*

By Ann Smith

Well, after two years of problems I can finally say that my block is “free at last” of squatters. The problem property sold at auction and a real estate group that is buying up foreclosed properties in Vallejo at a rapid rate bought the house.

With the help of a bank REO Agent I was able to contact the new owner of the property.  The next day a representative knocked on my door. I will call him Sam. He wanted to know about the “tenants” in the property. I told Sam all about his tenants by referring to the log I have kept on the property for two years. Sam was a nice man. However I let Sam know that I intended to pursue Civil Nuisance Abatement ASAP if he did not remedy the problem at the property within a reasonable amount of time. I immediately sent him a Civil Nuisance Abatement Letter giving him 90 days to evict the tenants. (It takes 90 days to evict tenants under California law whether they are legal or illegal tenants,) With assistance and information provided by the neighborhood watch group Sam was able to evict the squatters before the 90 days were up. Peace has returned to our neighborhood. All of the problems with prostitution, drug dealing,
and violence have moved away.

The house is now being restored into a livable property. Hopefully the new tenants will be great neighbors and will add to rather than subtract from the neighborhood.

Lessons learned:

1.Be a nosy neighbor.

2. Keep tabs on houses in your neighborhood. If a house looks like it may be in foreclosure talk to the current owner and ask him what his plans are about the house.

3. Encourage the owner to get help and not to leave the property until evicted. This gives the mortgage holder time to prepare for the move and accumulate cash. It also lessens the time the house will be vacant.

4. Get information about the bank that is proceeding with foreclosure action. This allows you to have information about who will be in possession of the property. Many banks are not transferring titles on properties until the property sells at auction. This can make it difficult to find out who owns the property.

5. If you suspect squatters have moved into the empty house, try to contact the bank as soon as possible. You can contact a real estate agent or Fighting Back Partnership in order to find out who owns the property.

6. Don’t hesitate. Send out a Civil Nuisance Abatement letter to the bank or owner as soon as possible. The information about Civil Nuisance abatement is available at Fighting Back Partnership.

7. Call Code Enforcement or file an online report immediately if there are violations on the property. There is now an ordinance in place that allows Code Enforcement to require banks to maintain their properties, with $1000/day penalty if they don’t.

8. Call the police as soon if you see criminal or suspicious activity on the property.

9. Report to the police all vehicles that are illegally parked or have expired tags.

10. Have Recology pick up their recycling and trash containers if the property is vacant.

11. Do not hesitate to bring the information to the Core Team at Fighting Back Partnership by filling out the Problem House Form on this web site.

12. Keep a log about activities at the property. Make sure you include the time and date of the incident, what took place, and how it made you feel.

13. Alert your neighbors about the foreclosed property.

This process requires persistence and patience. These are the crucial requirements for evicting squatters.

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