Owner Of Vacant House Under Renovation Needs Assist From Local Cops To Extract Brazen Squatter From Premises In Failed Attempt To Hijack Home
In Portland, Oregon, The Oregonian reports:
- When Tyler Combs and a plumber showed up at Combs' Southeast Portland house that's under remodel, they were surprised to find the lockbox on the front door gone and metal shavings on the porch. The plumber jiggled the knob. Suddenly a strange man opened the front door and stuck his head out.
- "Who are you?" Combs asked. "I live here," the stranger replied. "My jaw dropped, and I said, 'No you don't. This is my house.'" The stranger replied, "I live here now. I own this house."
- Thus began a frightening but eye-opening ordeal for Combs, who had bought the foreclosed house in July 2009. He had it under renovation and planned to put it back on the market. But now a stranger had moved in, changed the locks and had even persuaded PGE to put the electricity account in his name.
- Combs, 29, expected the man to pack up his belongings and move on, once caught. But the man didn't budge. [...] Combs called the police. When officers arrived, the stranger continued to block the door. After checking with detectives, East Precinct officers arrested Alexis Marie Logsdon that day, April 13. On Friday, Logsdon, 39, pleaded not guilty to second-degree burglary and criminal mischief. During his arraignment, he continued to argue the house was his.
- "He took possession of my account for that address, and PGE never notified me," Combs said. "In his mind, he had actually commandeered the house." [...] "He truly believed he had figured out a way to beat the system and literally take this house from me. I just felt so exposed," Combs said. "His confidence is what rattled me."
(1) Reportedly, a local group called Reclaim! Portland Real Estate Listings has a website that details how to illegally occupy a building, with tips to make the place look as "homey" as possible before police arrive, even suggesting the squatter make brownies for the neighbors. There are other websites that do the same, such as Squat2Own.com, which suggests squatters "dare the cops to intervene," the story states.
According to the story, various websites instruct squatters to change utility bills to their names, all a strategy to garner what is legally called adverse possession and has its roots in English common law. Under Oregon law, a squatter must show he has maintained open, exclusive and continuous use of the property for at least 10 years, and to have honestly believed he owned the property, and can't be conferred to people who know they are trespassing or, as in Logsdon's case, breaking and entering, the story states.