Authorities have ousted two squatters who took over a vacant Maryland house for three weeks as a couple was in the middle of finalizing ownership.
Squatters taking over a Clinton, Maryland home. (Photo: YouTube/WUSA9)
Realtor Melea King said her clients had just signed a contract with US Bank for property in Clinton, Maryland, when they saw a U-Haul truck in the driveway and the men moving into the home.
How the Squatters Moved Into the Home
The lock box had been removed. The squatters had a lease and put up a “No Trespassing” sign.
Prince George’s County State Attorney Aisha Braveboy launched an investigation into the incident, and King said the lease turned out to be “bogus” with fraudulent signatures. Police officers ordered the squatters to leave the property on Nov. 3, or they would be arrested.
“They found out that all of that information was inaccurate. It was a lie,” King told Atlanta Black Star.
However, it was a little too late for the couple who had planned to close on the house late last month. They backed out of the deal. However, King called another client who was interested in the property, and they were able to close on the home on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
“As a realtor, it’s my duty to fight for my client. I am here to protect them through the process of the purchase and that’s mainly them signing documents and that extends over to the property itself,” King said.
Melea King is a Realtor in the Maryland-Washington D.C. area. (Photo: Facebook/Melea King)
King believes the squatters have been going around trying to take ownership of other properties. She said the investigation revealed that they had attempted to get the deed and utilities transferred to their names and had even connected cable at the house.
“This is a real business out there where people are literally trying to take ownership of properties,” King said.
The realtor said she has been contacted by other victims of squatters. Some have been locked out of their houses for months because someone has fraudulently moved in, she said. King’s situation is rare. She was able to get the squatters removed quickly because of the media attention and with assistance from the state attorney, who launched a criminal investigation.
How to Get Rid of Squatters
Reports show squatters have been known to take over homes after people die and the house is empty. In April, squatters took over a woman’s Maryland apartment while she was on vacation.
It could take months in some cases to evict a person from the home, reports show. However, laws vary from state to state. King plans to push for laws in Maryland that would protect property owners. She believes they should be a separate eviction process in place for squatter situations.
Experts recommend consistently inspecting vacant properties or hiring property managers to monitor the space. King recommends using “No Trespassing” signs to warn off trespassers, while Chicago real estate attorney Mo Dadkhah told ABC 7 property owners should also consider paying off squatters to move out.
King believes if she did not sound the alarm about the Clinton property, the issue would still be ongoing. Police officers who initially arrived on the scene the day the squatters moved in told her client that it was a civil matter and a judge would have the final say, but she was adamant about getting them out.
“I was persistent. I was not giving up. I stayed in contact with the state’s attorney’s office,” she said. “I stayed in contact with the police department for them to really press on this thing to really get my clients that property.”