Imagine coming back from the airport after an extended vacation wanting nothing more than to take a nap. Now imagine walking into your front door to find ten strangers sitting around what used to be your living room.
Your first concern in this situation is no longer a nap. You may demand that the strangers leave, but when they are just as surprised to see you in their home, it complicates matters further.
This became the unusual reality for Crystal Taylor after she returned home from a trip to Cabo with her fiancé.
After a verbal disagreement about who were the rightful occupants, Taylor got police involved.
She hoped that this would be a simple case of breaking and entering; however, it was not so black and white. Because the police could not instantly verify the rightful occupants, no arrests were made.
The alleged squatters had brought forward a lease agreement, which they claimed was a product of a Craigslist transaction.
Although the documentation looked reasonable, the owner’s signature was not Taylor’s — the legal owner of the home.
Since then, the alleged squatters have moved out, considering themselves the victim of a real estate scam. One of the men (who was notably shirtless) said in an interview with ABC News, “I know this looks bad on us, when we go another place we are going to research the house.”
However, the innocence of the squatters looks questionable at best. There are a number of facts in this case which may lead to a conviction of unlawful occupancy.
Firstly, neighbors reported that the people moved into Taylor’s home at three in the morning. They supposedly pried open the garage door to gain entrance, claiming that they had not even checked the keys they were given (which didn’t work) until days later.
Secondly, they had trashed the house. Taylor said of the damage, “It was awful, it looked like I was in some homeless shelter.”
The squatters certainly made themselves comfortable. They brought in five cats and a dog, moved furniture around hardwood floors, threw parties, and left many stains in just over a week of occupancy.
Finally, there has been no further evidence establishing a paper trail to the alleged Craigslist deal. If none is found, the occupants may face criminal charges.
There is plenty of damage to fix in the home, and it is unclear as to whether insurance will cover any of it. We hope that Taylor is rightfully compensated.
Because this has been happening more frequently, we urge our readers to make an effort to protect their homes while on vacation.
If you follow these three simple rules, you may prevent this sort of crime from happening again: make your house look occupied, have your neighbors check regularly, and set up a Google alert notifying you if your residency is wrongfully put up for sale.
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