Please God Don't Be a Squatter

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Flack
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Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Flack » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:50 am

When we put our old house up for sale last October, the first thing our realtor told us was to empty everything out of the place. Every piece of furniture out, every picture off the wall. "People can't envision their stuff in a house that already has your stuff in it," she said.

After a few months on the market with no offers, the realtor said the biggest feedback she had received from visitors was that because the house was so big, they couldn't envision their stuff in it. At that point, she suggested we look into having it staged. (This was not the only time the realtor offered us contrasting advice.) The best deal we found on staging was a per month fee of $500 plus $100/room, which meant we were looking at an additional $1k/month on top of the $3k/month we were paying to cover the mortgage on a house we were no longer living in. I didn't want to do it.

Then, she pitched us an alternative -- a company she was familiar with and had worked with. What this company does is put people in houses that are for sale. So the people live in the house for free, but also stage the house with high end furniture. So it's kind of like having your house staged for free, with the trade off being that people are living there, rent free. The people living there pay the company a one time fee of ~$300, and cover utilities. They also do minor home maintenance, like mowing the lawn.

I balked at the idea -- why would I let someone live in the house I was paying $3k/month on? Then the months dragged on, the house didn't sell, and the feedback over and over was "it looks too empty," and each month the realtor would say, "boy, if only there were some high end furniture in here..." and so we relented and agreed to the deal.

About four months ago, a family moved into our old house. Again, they cover utilities, I cover the mortgage, and the house looks fantastic. The furniture in the house is high end. House looks great. House looks so great, that last month we got an offer. We accepted the offer and informed the company and the family living in our house that we have a contract, and the house is set to be sold in the middle of July.

Radio silence. No return call, no return text, nothing. My wife follows up, and just before we reached out a third time, we get a response. It's short, but they say okay.

Now, I'm sure moving every few months is a huge pain in the ass. The company told me their most active client moved 7 times in one year. The trade off is, they can afford to hire movers, because they don't pay rent. By living in our house for four months, this family saved $12k. I'm assuming they sock some of that away.

The closing date is approaching. We sign our part next Tuesday, and we close on Thursday. This is happening. Last week, we drive by the old house and there's a moving truck. Great. Things are "moving" along. Guy tells me they'll be out Saturday -- good news for me, since I still have a few things in the garage and backyard that need to come over. We'll do that Sunday, after they're gone.

We stopped by this morning and... there's still stuff in the garage. The guy tells me the place he was moving into didn't work out, and he's looking for a place to go. We get our stuff and remind him that closing and the final walk-thru is on Tuesday. He says he's aware of the fact.

We were hoping to go through the house one final time, clean everything up, and do one final walk-through before the closing date. With the guy's stuff (and the guy's family) still in there, obviously we couldn't do that this morning.

I am hoping that the guy gets a place today/tomorrow to move his things into. I don't wish him or his family ill will, but... to quote almost everyone at one point or another in Star Wars... "I have a bad feeling about this."
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:39 pm

Squatters are now on the list to be a Cyberganked enemy.

Sounds like they knew what they signed up for and hey, they got FOUR YEARS of a rent free existence. Can you imagine how ahead of things you'd be if you didn't have a mortgage payment for four months? (I get that you are imagining a world where there is just one, so yes, you probably can imagine it.) I mean, them's the breaks for this family. Nobody else in America has such a suite deal.

OK, moving is awful. So I'll give them that.

You are a good person to not want to wish them ill. There is a phrase I am trying to repeat to myself often because I think that a lot of times I take on too much, and that phrase is "Sorry buddy, not my problem." This seems to be a good use of that phrase if they try to screw your deal up. I also think that if they went that route and you started telling people about it, that would sink their company. Nobody, and I mean nobody would want to add another headache and complication to selling a house, so if word gets out that this company can't deliver and you get this nonsense to deal with, I would think it would sink that industry.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:24 pm

Well, with the exception of Nevada, once someone - this may include 'squatters' - if they have been residing on a property more than 30 days, they become a tenant. This is critical. If someone is staying on your property less than 30 days, they are simply a "transient" and you can toss them out or get the cops to do so.

However, once they are a tenant you can't toss them out, you must evict them, by filing a lawsuit and going to court. The police also will not interfere as when you're trying to remove a tenant (as opposed to a transient) is a civil matter. This is also why hotels and motels won't rent rooms for more than 30 days (unless you do sign up for a long-term stay.)

Trying to throw out a tenant by self-help is a serious matter and can cause the police to arrest you. Smart landlords know this and often use a faster method than eviction: bribery. Offering the recalcitrant tenant a bribe, like $1,000 plus moving expenses to leave right away is often a much more cost-effective method then spending 4-6 months waiting for your court case.

The exception is Nevada, at least in Las Vegas, where you serve the tenant with a 5-day notice to pay or quit. Unlike the same form in California, after 5 days the Sheriff will remove the tenant. In Nevada, once the tenant gets a 5-day notice, they must sue to stop the eviction.
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Casual Observer » Sun Jul 07, 2019 6:10 pm

Tdarcos wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:24 pm
Well, with the exception of Nevada, once someone - this may include 'squatters' - if they have been residing on a property more than 30 days, they become a tenant. This is critical. If someone is staying on your property less than 30 days, they are simply a "transient" and you can toss them out or get the cops to do so.

However, once they are a tenant you can't toss them out, you must evict them, by filing a lawsuit and going to court. The police also will not interfere as when you're trying to remove a tenant (as opposed to a transient) is a civil matter. This is also why hotels and motels won't rent rooms for more than 30 days (unless you do sign up for a long-term stay.)

Trying to throw out a tenant by self-help is a serious matter and can cause the police to arrest you. Smart landlords know this and often use a faster method than eviction: bribery. Offering the recalcitrant tenant a bribe, like $1,000 plus moving expenses to leave right away is often a much more cost-effective method then spending 4-6 months waiting for your court case.

The exception is Nevada, at least in Las Vegas, where you serve the tenant with a 5-day notice to pay or quit. Unlike the same form in California, after 5 days the Sheriff will remove the tenant. In Nevada, once the tenant gets a 5-day notice, they must sue to stop the eviction.
Not exactly, Tdarcos, if you sell the property then all tenancy contracts, whether real or implied are voided.

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Casual Observer » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:24 am

Casual Observer wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 6:10 pm
Tdarcos wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:24 pm
Well, with the exception of Nevada, once someone - this may include 'squatters' - if they have been residing on a property more than 30 days, they become a tenant. This is critical. If someone is staying on your property less than 30 days, they are simply a "transient" and you can toss them out or get the cops to do so.

However, once they are a tenant you can't toss them out, you must evict them, by filing a lawsuit and going to court. The police also will not interfere as when you're trying to remove a tenant (as opposed to a transient) is a civil matter. This is also why hotels and motels won't rent rooms for more than 30 days (unless you do sign up for a long-term stay.)

Trying to throw out a tenant by self-help is a serious matter and can cause the police to arrest you. Smart landlords know this and often use a faster method than eviction: bribery. Offering the recalcitrant tenant a bribe, like $1,000 plus moving expenses to leave right away is often a much more cost-effective method then spending 4-6 months waiting for your court case.

The exception is Nevada, at least in Las Vegas, where you serve the tenant with a 5-day notice to pay or quit. Unlike the same form in California, after 5 days the Sheriff will remove the tenant. In Nevada, once the tenant gets a 5-day notice, they must sue to stop the eviction.
Not exactly, Tdarcos, if you sell the property then all tenancy contracts, whether real or implied are voided.
The other thing is landlord tenant court is a joke. Always stacked heavily against the tenant such that it becomes a formality even in real disputes.

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:50 am

Casual Observer wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 6:10 pm
Tdarcos wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:24 pm

However, once they are a tenant you can't toss them out, you must evict them, by filing a lawsuit and going to court... Trying to throw out a tenant by self-help is a serious matter and can cause the police to arrest you.
Not exactly, Tdarcos, if you sell the property then all tenancy contracts, whether real or implied are voided.
Not true. Ask a real estate agent or lawyer. Tenancy is a matter of state law, not merely the lease. The tenancy survives sale of the property, and if an unexpired lease was signed, the new landlord has to honor it (with very limited exceptions only applicable to foreclosure sales.) Otherwise, if someone had a three-year lease but wanted to get more money from a new tenant(s) they'd just sell the place to their own corporation, then toss everyone out through self-help. Have you not heard about people in rent-controlled apartments in New York City where the building is sold? They still have to honor the holdover tenant's occupancy.

I used to work for a real estate broker, I learned all the tricks tenants can use to get away with not paying, and how you have to follow the rules, or the tenant can win, possibly collect damages.
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Flack » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:50 am

My backup plan was simpler. If this guy and his family somehow thwarted our sale, I planned on moving back into the home out of spite. Possibly doing some home improvement projects, like knocking the place down with a bulldozer.

We've scheduled exterminators to spray the house inside and out today for spiders and ants, so it could be an interesting morning.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Casual Observer » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:45 pm

Tdarcos wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:50 am
The tenancy survives sale of the property, and if an unexpired lease was signed, the new landlord has to honor it (with very limited exceptions only applicable to foreclosure sales.) Otherwise, if someone had a three-year lease but wanted to get more money from a new tenant(s) they'd just sell the place to their own corporation, then toss everyone out through self-help. Have you not heard about people in rent-controlled apartments in New York City where the building is sold? They still have to honor the holdover tenant's occupancy.

I used to work for a real estate broker, I learned all the tricks tenants can use to get away with not paying, and how you have to follow the rules, or the tenant can win, possibly collect damages.
So . . . I think you're mixing up your points. A lease, which is a contract signed by two parties, may survive a sale unless it states that it doesn't in the lease. Guess what, all leases say this, it's in the boilerplate shit you can download.

I need you to site some evidence that an implied lease, i.e. one that happens because someone simply stays at a place for 30 days is survivable past a sale. Please cite some internet evidence about this and I'll admit you're right.

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:32 am

Casual Observer wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:45 pm
I need you to site some evidence that an implied lease, i.e. one that happens because someone simply stays at a place for 30 days is survivable past a sale. Please cite some internet evidence about this and I'll admit you're right.
The following were the rules in Maryland where I used to live, but most states have similar rules:

https://www.peoples-law.org/overview-ma ... -ownership

Changes in Property Ownership and other unusual situations

If a landlord or a renter dies, the lease is still in effect.
If the landlord sells the property, the buyer has to honor any existing leases.
In a mortgage foreclosure, the renter’s rights depend on whether the lease came before the mortgage. If the lease came first, it continues. If the mortgage came first, the renter is entitled to certain notices.
If the property is sold at tax sale, the lease terminates.
If the property is converted to condominiums, the renter has certain rights.

Source PLL, and Marc Baer, Esq., Waldman Grossfeld Appel & Baer, PA


Would you like some salt to put on your crow, CO?
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:07 am

By the way, here's Maryland's automatic lease law:

Universal Citation: MD Real Prop Code § 8-208 (2015)

(a) Written leases -- In general. --

(1) On or after October 1, 1999, any landlord who offers 5 or more dwelling units for rent in the State may not rent a residential dwelling unit without using a written lease.

(2) If a landlord fails to comply with paragraph (1) of this subsection, the term of the tenancy is presumed to be 1 year from the date of the tenant's first occupancy unless the tenant elects to end the tenancy at an earlier date by giving 1 month's written notice.
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Flack » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:20 am

I have two personal experiences with this.

01. When my adult cousin (he's 50) last got out of jail, he asked his mom if he could crash at her house until he found a place of his own. She set some ground rules for him (no drugs, no overnight guests) and he proceeded to break them all. After a few weeks she asked him to leave and he said no. When she called the cops they told her that by allowing him to stay there more than 3 days and letting him store his things there, there was an implied landlord/tenant relationship and that removing him would take an eviction notice and all sorts of legal paperwork. It was scary how quickly things unfolded. Fortunately a different scenario worked itself out; he got arrested again, and while he was in jail my aunt moved and sold the house.

02. In the mid-90s, my wife and I bought an old house that had been divided up into multiple apartments. It was a big house that had been segmented off so that it had four completely separate living areas (four kitchens, four living rooms, four bathrooms, etc). We bought the house, moved in, and two or three days later we heard weird sounds in the middle of the night and discovered a pair of twin sisters were living in the back apartment. When we asked them to leave they said no, that they had paid rent until the end of the month. We called a family friend who was also an attorney and he sided with the girls, saying that their lease pretty much covered them. Their particular apartment was segmented off from the rest of the house (you had to use an outside door) so we never really ran into them, but it sure was odd to be laying in bed at night and hear strangers living in your house doing stuff. When they moved out they left a bunch of shit behind that I took out and dumped on a dirt road. Then I got caught and had to pay a $220 littering fee. Damn twins.
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:35 am

There is a difference here in Virginia as far as hotels are concerned, the law here is that someone has to stay there continuously for 90 days to be a tenant.
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Casual Observer » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:03 am

Tdarcos wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:32 am
Would you like some salt to put on your crow, CO?
Not until you present some evidence that someone who becomes considered a tenant only because they stayed in a place for a number of days can continue to be a tenant past a sale since there is no contract signed by both parties.

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by ChainGangGuy » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:01 pm

This brings back some weird, wild and absolutely wonderful property management memories. Thank you, Flack. I hope it doesn't turn out to be an absolute nightmare, but it could turn out to be an absolute nightmare, though I'm not versed in your state's particular landlord-tenant laws. Have you reached out to the respective company regarding your dissatisfaction with their service?

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Flack » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:50 pm

I went by on Monday to meet the pest control guys and the house was empty. On the back porch he left three stools (all wobbly), a ladder, and an empty can of lemon-lime Shasta.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:29 am

Casual Observer wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:03 am
Tdarcos wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:32 am
Would you like some salt to put on your crow, CO?
Not until you present some evidence that someone who becomes considered a tenant only because they stayed in a place for a number of days can continue to be a tenant past a sale since there is no contract signed by both parties.
You never read what I posted about the "automatic lease." When a landlord rents more than 5 properties, they must provide a lease or as a matter of law the renter is automatically granted a one year lease which the (now a) tenant has the option to terminate on 30 days notice. Virginia has the same provision but it doesn't become effective until a rental on or after October 1, 2019.

This provision in effect becomes a "statutory contract." It does not matter that neither party signed anything, the terms of the law apply to their transaction and is enforceable by either party.
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:02 am

Casual Observer wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:03 am
Tdarcos wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:32 am
Would you like some salt to put on your crow, CO?
Not until you present some evidence that someone who becomes considered a tenant only because they stayed in a place for a number of days can continue to be a tenant past a sale since there is no contract signed by both parties.
An example from Virginia:
Code of Virginia 1950:
§ 55-248.4. (Repealed effective October 1, 2019) Definitions.

When used in this chapter, unless expressly stated otherwise:

"Rent" means all money, other than a security deposit, owed or paid to the landlord under the rental agreement, including prepaid rent paid more than one month in advance of the rent due date.

"Rental agreement" or "lease agreement" means all rental agreements, written or oral, and valid rules and regulations adopted under § 55-248.17 embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit and premises.

"Tenant" means a person entitled only under the terms of a rental agreement to occupy a dwelling unit to the exclusion of others and shall include roomer.


So, if I go to a landlord and we agree I'm going to pay him $175 a week, but at the 3rd of the month for the whole month, and i pay him, this is an oral Rental Agreement, and under the law I'm a tenant. (At least before October 1).

Would you like some salt for your second serving of crow, CO?
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Casual Observer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:22 am

Tdarcos wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:02 am
Would you like some salt for your second serving of crow, CO?
still no, this is a definition of tenant but doesn't state how a new owner has to honor an agreement which has no terms.

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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Tdarcos » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:47 am

Casual Observer wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:22 am
Tdarcos wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:02 am
Would you like some salt for your second serving of crow, CO?
still no, this is a definition of tenant but doesn't state how a new owner has to honor an agreement which has no terms.
Okay, let's use Maryland law. The landlord rents out 12 houses so he's subject to the requirement to provide a lease or state law automatically provides a 1 year lease. So three months into the tenancy the landlord sells the building. The new owner, seeing no lease, wants $50 a month more. I say no, I refuse, saying they can't raise my rent or evict me unless I don't pay the original rent until next April, 9 months later.

New owner sues for eviction. I go to court with my rent receipts and a copy of MD Real Prop Code § 8-208. New owner says I don't have a lease and he did not agree to this, I have to sue the old owner. Judge says the law says I have an automatic lease until next April, they can't evict me unless I stop paying, and can't raise my rent or choose to stop renting to me until April. "Judgement for the defendant. Next case."
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Re: Please God Don't Be a Squatter

Post by Casual Observer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:56 am

You're still talking about an actual lease and not someone who becomes a "tenant" automatically by law because they stayed for a certain period of time. I don't think you can find examples of such.

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