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May 14, 2019

Waiting to Close

Squatter HouseNo Comments

You Are Here:Waiting to Close

I’ve been trying to do research on removing squatters from a property and struggling to find relevant information. Squatter’s rights are a way that law makers could allow property to be put to use. If a landowner has not used their property for years, but someone else makes use of that property, eventually they can come to own it. (check out the Stuff You Should Know podcast on how squatting works, it’s a great resource and really fascinating.) In Alabama, if a person can prove they have been paying property taxes and utilities on a property for 10 years, they can claim legal ownership of that property. We know that this is not the case at our squatter house, so the problem is finding out how to remove squatters that don’t have these ownership claims yet. I’ve talked to people that said they were able to have the sheriff immediately remove people for breaking and entering. I’ve talked to some people that said they had to go through the full eviction process. It seems that legally we’re in a gray area.
So I called Jefferson County Sheriff, where the property is located and explained the situation. They said they don’t do evictions (even though this shouldn’t be an eviction since they have no rights to be in the property) and that we should call the Birmingham Police Dept. When I called Birmingham Police, they told me I needed to call Jefferson Sheriff (of course, haha)
After talking further with the police dept., they told me they wouldn’t remove the people from the house, but they would accompany me to do it myself. Better than nothing!
We had discussed breaking in to the house via a window (since they need to be replaced anyways) and removing all the personal items on to the curb while the police were there to supervise. This would obviously be the easiest route, we could go during the day when no one was there, remove the items, change the locks, and drill some plywood over the broken window until it can be replaced. However, we ruled out this option after driving by again and realizing it looks like an entire family living in the property. Though we haven’t been able to see inside, it could take hours to remove all the furniture and personal items from the house. I really wouldn’t feel comfortable having anyone from this family arrive while I’m kicking all of their stuff to the curb, even if there is an officer there. It didn’t sound feasible and it definitely didn’t sound safe. So moving on to plan B….

Plan B is going to the “cash for keys” strategy. I’m hoping to go knock on the door (with police back up there just in case), kindly explain who I am and ask for them to leave, offering them $500 if they can be out of the house in 24 hours.

Currently, we are still awaiting closing as the seller was missing some entity paperwork. As soon as we close I’ll head over to the property and see what happens! Stay tuned for an update and see if we need to move to plan C.

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