Saturday, October 1, 2011

California City Begins Using Violations Of Public Health Ordinance As Quick, Easy Way To Boot Squatters In Vacant F'closed Homes Without Court Process

In Manteca, California, the Manteca Bulletin reports:

  • Every neighborhood seems to have one. And they’re not hard to spot. They are foreclosures with a twist. Homes owned by small-time landlords that are in process of being repossessed by the bank. The investor’s name is on the tax rolls but they’ve been missing in action even before the property started going south. Even if you know the name of the bank that holds the loans it does no good until the legal foreclosure process is completed.

  • That process is now taking upwards of a year or more thanks to the backlash from the robo signing scandal. The tenants were served eviction notices but they either didn’t leave or they came back. They are anything but good neighbors.

  • They often don’t have water. The city turns it off for non-payment and then they bypass it. That results in the city removing the meter and shutting off the flow of water.

  • Electricity and natural gas bills have been cut off for non-payment. Some use noisy generators to keep the lights going.Others - if they have a swimming pool - use that stagnant water to flush toilets.


  • You call the police. They respond. They are caught in a twilight zone. They can’t order anyone out of the home or arrest them for trespassing because they don’t have a complaint from the owner. It is a hassle to find out who the mortgage holder is but that is an exercise in futility since the legal owner is still the party the bank is foreclosing on.

  • So what can be done? In extreme cases, the city has stepped up its game. This week, City Manager Karen McLaughlin working with municipal workers exercised one of its few options.

  • They declared such a home uninhabitablefor public health reasons. They have the power to do that when there is no water and electricity to a house.

  • The posting gives police the ability to chase trespassers - a polite name for squatters - off the property. [...] McLaughlin correctly notes the city’s legal options are pretty limited in such cases. But she emphasized the city intends to work diligently and do what it can to try to get the problem under control.

For the story, see No water, no power = home uninhabitable.

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