How to Evict Squatters From Your Property in the Bay Area
I had to Evict Squatters out of a property, I had listed property in the Bay Area for sale in Antioch, CA, located in Contra Costa County. The property was vacant. Unfortunately, upon listing the house for sale, I discovered a group of people living in the house claiming to have “tenancy” because they were victims of a craigslist scam.
Immediately, I called the police. I waited for a few hours for the police to arrive. The police went into the house, and 15 minutes later officers come out informing me they could not remove the squatters because the squatters hadn’t violated any laws.
Later on, Antioch Police officers told me: basically, we cannot help you because the “squatters have established tenancy”! Normally, you might think that if someone breaks into a residence, whether it is vacant or occupied, without possessing a valid lease, it was would be construed as “Breaking and Entering” or “Burglary.” In this post–real-estate-crash world it is not considered establishing “tenancy,” per how the local police department will interpret the law.
My first step was to head to the courthouse, the Richard E. Arnason Justice Center, and I had to file a certain amount of paperwork to stay on the right side of the law, even though these people were lying and breaking the law.
I immediately sent these people (squatters) a “3 Day Notice to Quit.” Prior to sending, I hired process servers each time to deliver notices to them. Of course since these squatters were professionals at manipulating the system, they tried all types of avoidance scenarios to not get served, such as not answering the doors, claiming they were not named, and other counter measures.
After serving them with a notice to quit immediately, I then proceeded to file an “Unlawful Detainer,” then waited the 7 days to hear a response, and guess what? These people even hired an attorney to file a response, thereby adding more time to the eviction process.
Process Servers save you court time because you’ll encounter long lines going to court to file each legal document. To avoid that wait, just hire a good process server. Once they filed their response, my next step was paying a $25 filing fee for “request for trial” paperwork, then once again waiting for them to respond to that court date.
On the date of the trial, you’ll have to sit through about 5 to 6 other legal cases, ranging from minor traffic stops, civil matters and Peoples Court type issues. When my case was called, the defendants—guess what—did not show up, so I read a few statements, then asked the judge for a full eviction of these lawbreaking individuals.
In most courts, once you win the eviction you’ll have to wait a few days to get the paperwork back from the court, but when you do your eviction, let’s not forget make sure to file CCP 445.17, which eliminates the ability of “Claim of Right” individuals to hold you up from evicting all occupants.
Next steps: once you win the unlawful detainer case, you’ll head down to the sheriff’s office to file a document to physically evict the occupants. In Contra Costa County, this costs about $75 payable to “Sheriff Department.”
After you fill out the documents, be very detailed about the situation to help the safety of all involved. If you feel the people are dangerous in any manner, please let the Sheriff know up front.
Once you pay the Sheriff, be prepared to wait about 5 to 7 days for the Sheriff Department to serve them with notice of eviction. In most cases, most people will leave well before that day comes, but keep the idiot rule intact that someone will wait to get booted out personally by the Sheriff.
On the day of our eviction, the individuals did not get the memo to be out; therefore, the Sheriff personally had them evicted from the property, including Homer the pit-bull and all other items.
In most cases, evicted tenants or squatters will leave ahead of time, but in this eviction these people actually got belligerent once the Sheriff left the scene, so be prepared to call the police and document all your actions to have a peaceful and safe eviction process.
Jonathan Fleming runs a full service real estate services firm in the Bay Area; his company handles Sales, Leasing and Management of residential and commercial properties throughout Northern California. He can be reached at 800-892-1755, Ext 207.