Detroit Swag-o-mania

What a festive night as throngs gathered at Campus Martius in Downtown Detroit for the the lighting of the city Christmas tree and the official opening of the skating rink.

READ MORE »


New? Join DetroitYES»

DISCUSSING ALL THINGS DETROIT-WINDSOR SINCE 1999

ENJOY DETROITYES?


AND HAVE ADS REMOVED DETAILS »

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 45
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    81

    Default Squatters Rights

    This has been a popular topic on Detroityes as of late, however let me share with you my experience.

    We've probably all read/heard this story: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/21...youre-not-home

    Here is my story:

    I'm a small investor in the Detroit housing market and recently bought a house at the Wayne County tax auction. Right around this same time, the nextdoor neighbor the house I bought was being evicted. The bailiff showed up with 2 giants dumpsters, but the people in the house decided to move into the empty house next door (my house.) The Bailiff emptied out the house into the street and the people moved it all into the neighbor's house. Fast forward a little bit and I stop by and knock on the door because I thought the house was empty. I'm ready to begin work on the house and prepare it to be a rental. A man & wife answer the door and let me in. I explained the situation, and the man said "we have squatters rights." They are living in the house with 5 children, their parents, 2 big pit bulls, and 10 puppies. So, I started the eviction process.

    1.5 months later the court date finally arrives. I didn't expect to see them there, but they actually showed up! They couldn't believe they were being evicted from their house. The man said he had done repairs, like replacing the side door & electrical panel, and therefore he is entitled to the house. I said that I was going to proceed with eviction and he said "That's bullshit!" The judge was nice and told them "Well, obviously he doesn't want to rent to you, so you'd better make other arrangements. I can't force him to rent to you"

    So here we are nearly 2.5 months after I started the eviction process and the bailiff still hasn't evicted them. The people living in the house are busy stripping it and living there until the last possible second. I witnessed them taking the sink and a few other items out, and I can't do anything about it. I just hope they don't poor concrete down the drains as they're leaving.

    Squatters DO have rights in Detroit. It's crazy. This mentality is duplicated throughout the city, just like the stories we've been reading lately.

    "Neighbor: This is Detroit and we will come squat in your house if you're not home"
    Last edited by devman1983; February-24-13 at 09:31 AM. Reason: All my line breaks disappeared

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    320

    Default

    Yes, sadly, unless you can get law enforcement to intervene and remove squatters as trespassers, the law will accord them possession rights until the owner legally terminates those rights through an eviction case (technically known as a summary possession action).

    It's not much recourse, but you can also file a separate lawsuit for damages in 36th District court against the squatters. Defendant(s) likely won't respond and you can get a default judgment for the damages you can prove. If the squatter/loser has an employer of any sort, you can give him a little grief through a wage garnishment. Another neat trick you might need a lawyer to help you with is after you get a money judgment - and if you can locate the asshole - you can serve him with a subpoena for what the lawyers call a creditors exam. This requires the squatter to show up at the lawyer's office and provide information about his (probably non-existent) finances and assets. He won't show when required. Not showing up is considered contempt of court and the lawyer can have a judge issue a bench warrant for the squatter's arrest. The warrant goes into the system and if the squatter is stopped by the police for any reason, he'll get locked up. Even years later. Even if you never see any money, you might get some satisfaction from having the guy spend a few days in county jail.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    408

    Default

    I never understood why squatters have rights. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Can someone please enlighten me?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,080

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gumby View Post
    I never understood why squatters have rights. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Can someone please enlighten me?
    I heard it had to do with the Tasha Flowers case. A few years ago, Tasha Flowers moved into a nice foreclosed home in Sherwood Forest and squatted. Her neighbours complained to the bank and the bank called the DPD. Several DPD officers showed up and arrested and escorted her and her family very professionally (according to the neighbours), but she filed a phoney lawsuit against the DPD for $15m for police brutality anyway. DPD settled out of court. Since then, the DPD won't get involved unless there's a court order. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A9SKlktxFs


    As for the squatters for the OP, contact animal control what the limit is on the number of dogs a household is allowed to have in this city. In most Michigan cities, it's 2 unless they have a special kennel permit.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    2,915

    Default

    You can NEVER leave a livable house empty in Detroit. I'm not saying it's your fault, but you should have known this.

    You can make money investing in Detroit, but it's a brutal game. It's way too tough for me. There are much easier ways to make money.

    And, yeah, the court system is screwed up. But you should count yourself lucky. In some states, it can take six months to even a year to remove a squatter. Michigan is generally very pro-landlord.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,981

    Default

    This really sucks. Really sorry you got caught up in a mess like that devman 1983. It goes to show buying vacant property in Detroit comes with extremely huge risks. People think they can go into the city and pick up properties easy and cheap, but must also realize it requires very frequent checkups to be sure people aren't trespassing or damaging the property.

    Had they been detected earlier, it may heave been alot easier to get them removed, plus prove that they had busted locks.

    Squatters rights take many years to go into effect. It makes some reasonable sense when a property goes into total abandonment, but you obviously checked up on your property. Plus...you knocked. Why? Nothing says you can't just barge in. True that landlords can't walk in unannounced into a property when in a contract agreement with tenants, but no such contract exists. If they aren't abiding by the rules, you have no reason to be polite about the situation. But you were and unfortunately enabled them to stay. At the same time, it's understandable if you may have thought the family was in some way dangerous. I mean they did have all those dogs and I'd hate to deal with that. I would have started by calling animal control to have the animals removed. No one should legally be allowed to own that many animals in the city. It may have been resulted in an arrest of a core family member making them much more vulnerable and easy to remove from the property.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,488

    Default

    Its your house correct? you could be a pain in the ass to them. I can think of many ways to be a pain in their ass if you own the house and have some imigination. Is their power legal? gas legal? I would think even if it were in their name you could get it shut down as it is your house. Most likely they hacked the electric box or ran a power line to the pole. DTE should have no problem shutting power off in your own house but make sure they come out to turn it off and put a new lock on the box.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    2,244

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Django View Post
    Its your house correct? you could be a pain in the ass to them. I can think of many ways to be a pain in their ass if you own the house and have some imigination. Is their power legal? gas legal? I would think even if it were in their name you could get it shut down as it is your house. Most likely they hacked the electric box or ran a power line to the pole. DTE should have no problem shutting power off in your own house but make sure they come out to turn it off and put a new lock on the box.
    Yeah, like can you have the locks changed? I think shutting off utilities and changing locks could cause some real problems for them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,981

    Default

    ^ that's a good suggestion. I may have completely secured the property and tossed out their stuff into the street when they were gone.

    People may think I sound unsympathetic to the family and maybe I am. But it would be about me and my investment, and specter of liability with strangers in my house before I let silly emotions get in the way. Id make a fake letter on the door saying the city had the house cleaned out.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    42

    Default

    If anyone insists on getting into the real estate game in Detroit I strongly suggest you subscribe and watch this guys youtube channel. This guy is in the trenches every day. He walks you through everything step by step. Its the best Detroit based reality show there is. https://www.youtube.com/user/proshea01

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    1,170

    Default

    I just find it amazing people can just commandeer someone's house and the owner of the house has to do all the work to remove them. What would stop me from just going to house after house and live for free until the owner forces me out?

  12. #12

    Default

    Just curious, do you know if the house from which they were evicted was also squatted? What happend to it? As he seems to have the lines about squatters' rights so handy it may be that he has been through the process previously.

    Then there is the heartstring factor, a two parent family with five kids, and the grandparents in winter.

    You got dealt a tough hand devman1983 no matter how you play it. Good luck.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,981

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lowell View Post
    Just curious, do you know if the house from which they were evicted was also squatted? What happend to it? As he seems to have the lines about squatters' rights so handy it may be that he has been through the process previously.

    Then there is the heartstring factor, a two parent family with five kids, and the grandparents in winter.

    You got dealt a tough hand devman1983 no matter how you play it. Good luck.
    The part you mentioned was in the back of my mind. I tend to be one of those people that at times do more good than I should. At some point you have to ask, "Will these people totally ruin my life." According to the OP they are ripping stuff out. It's a matter of me or them at this point. They'd be relocated to a shelter if this went forward as a case of breaking and entering and vandalism....it's actually not trespassing.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,574

    Default

    This is all hard for me to even comprehend.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,488

    Default

    You can bet that by the time eviction day comes the house will be stripped of everything.

    You need some goons to make it clear to them they dont live there anymore. Theres thousands of houses in Detroit to be squatted in where no one would care, it shouldnt be someone who does.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    81

    Default

    I've had good luck with Detroit properties in the past, but then again I've never encountered a house with squatters in it. I coudn't tell you if they were evicted from nextdoor for squatting or non-payment of rent. I just remember I was driving down the street during the eviction process and the street was chaos. 3 giant dumpsters, and all their belongings scattered on all the lawns and the street.

    They have legal DTE service there because I already called and checked. As far as I can tell you can start DTE service in any house just with a phone call.

    The term "squatters rights" gets thrown around all throughout the city, and therefore people feel entitled to a house if it happens to be empty. What a great cultural phenomenon!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    644

    Default

    Isn't the basis for "squatter's rights" more that the cops can't make the decision as to who has the legal right to reside in the house and that it needs to go before a judge for that? I mean, what if you get tired of your (legal) tenants and just call the cops and say they are squatters. Then the tenants bring out a lease, but can the cops decide if it's enforceable, or even real...

    It's easy to take your word that they are squatters, but I get why the cops can't necessarily do that...The answer is to have a VERY quick judicial process, like you do for restraining orders.

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Django View Post
    You need some goons to make it clear to them they dont live there anymore. Theres thousands of houses in Detroit to be squatted in where no one would care, it shouldnt be someone who does.
    Django, you know that is a recipe for possible disaster that could backfire opening devman to felony charges and a civil lawsuit that could end up with him buying a new house for the squatters and sending the kids to college. I understand the sentiment, but I am going to guess that the auction price he paid for the house isn't enough for such a risk.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    585

    Default

    a week ago there was a story in one of the online news outlets. Some lady left her house for some unremembered ammt of time and the neighbors pretty much turned it into a chill spot / clubhouse / neighborhood hangout. Some of them were eventually charged with home invasion.

    The part that reallllllly gives pause though.... When neighborhood residents were interviewed their attitudes about this were so twisted and unreal that anyone thinking about trying their hand at property management in the city should think twice.
    I found the link
    http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/21...youre-not-home

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    945

    Default

    This shit boggles my mind. Squatters & rights is an oxymoron of the highest degree.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    2,244

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikefmich View Post
    This shit boggles my mind. Squatters & rights is an oxymoron of the highest degree.
    For the record, I think the behavior of this particular squatter, and most squatters in general, is reprehensible and can't continue any longer. It's destructive not just to the homeowner, but also to the health of neighborhood and fiscal health of the city.

    The legal concept of adverse possession (the legal rights to take someone else's property away without their permission) does have some basis in pragmatism and general good intent. I'm not a property lawyer, so I'll let someone else chime in on this for more detail...but here's an example.

    Let's say that you and I are neighbors in a neighborhood, and to protect my children from some dogs that you own, we both agree that putting up a picket fence made the most amount sense. So I hire a contractor to put up a fence on the property line, and for the next 20 years, you mow the lawn on your side...I mow the lawn on my side, everything is great.

    Then let's say that you sold the property to someone 25 years later, and now I'm in the middle of selling my property to someone else. After doing a title search and survey, we find out that 25 years ago, the fence installer actually screwed up and built the fence 15 yards from the actual property line and inadvertantly "shrank" my backyard. And since that time, the new owner built a doghouse at the fenceline and done some landscaping, perhaps built a nice slate path, etc.

    So do I go to the new owner of your house and say, "Hey man, we f-d up this fenceline, and technically everything 15 yards on your side of the fence is actually my property. That includes the gazebo, doghouse, garden, etc.

    Of course, his response is going to be, "Hey man, when I purchased this property, I purchased it with both the seller and you agreeing that the fenceline was right. If there was an issue of ownership, I wouldn't have plunked down $20,000 in landscaping. You should've dealt with this 25 years ago...and definitely before your buddy sold the property to me."

    Enter "adverse possession". There are laws in place to protect both the new owner of your property as well as the title insurance company from mistakes in ownership that were made.

    ===========

    Squatters rights are related but even more complex. But in general, the intent is the same. It is there to protect someone who invested time and money in what he/she thought was abandoned, or what someone else had led them to believe was available for their use.

    Let's say that you were looking for a place to purchase, I put an ad in Craigslist, and I sell you the house for $5000. I help move you in, collect my money, sign over the deed, and then I disappear.

    4 years later, the actual property owner shows up and sees you in his house. He says, "WTF are you doing on my property??" You show him the deed, which -- of course -- is fraudulent.

    Obviously, yes, you are trespassing and will eventually have to go. But at the same time, you've been paying property taxes, utilities, and have done $10,000 in improvements. So while you will eventually have to leave, you do have some rights to compensation.

    And if you're there for 30 years, the law might say, "Hey look, property owner, you've got a legitimate gripe, but you should've dealt with this 30 years ago. Since then the property has been sold 4 times to new owners, etc. etc.

    In any case, the squatters rights to due process needs to be totally reformed. I don't believe that the legislators were ever intending the laws to be used (abused) in this way.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    112

    Default

    Having never looked, I would bet you can't find the phrase "squatter's rights" in any part of the Detroit City Code. It's probably not anywhere in state law, either. What we're really talking about here is tenant's rights: what protections are you due as a resident of a building; how you prove that you are the legal resident of a building; and what does the landlord have to prove before forcibly removing you.

    Clearly, it is possible to abuse these protections, particularly if you're willing to destroy the building for short-term fun/profit. But let's not forget that the same laws being abused provide security and stability for every law-abiding person who rents the space they live in. They are even more important for people who have an informal or verbal lease with their landlord, or people whose landlords are amoral, incompetent, or absent.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    2,244

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gvidas View Post
    But let's not forget that the same laws being abused provide security and stability for every law-abiding person who rents the space they live in. They are even more important for people who have an informal or verbal lease with their landlord, or people whose landlords are amoral, incompetent, or absent.
    Exactly.

    So the question is this: How do we rewrite the tenant laws to protect the innocent without inadvertently allowing months and months of theft, abuse, and general criminal behavior?

    One thing that is for sure, I believe that tenants have the right to due process, but that timeline is way, way, way, too long and too much burden is on the landlords.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    259

    Default

    After what happened to that Australian guy who tried to be a ghetto landlord, I give you credit for taking the huge risk of trying to invest in Detroit. Consider yourself somewhat lucky you ended up with some squatters who didn't just immediately shoot you for disrespectin' them.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    945

    Default

    Corktown, I understand that there are fine points in the law.....but that has no bearing on this kind of behavior.

    Police & fire are almost non-existent. The city is crumbling beyond repair even in my kids lifetime, and now you have folks that can pull this kind of shit, and the law doesn't back up the rightful owner in an expedient manner.

    And yet all the threads on this site as to how to fix the city go on. As long as what I spoke of above isn't corrected, Detroit will never be fixed.....and that makes me very sad as a place I called home and enjoyed for over half a century, and for many generations before me......since about 1840 to be exact.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •