Through adverse possession squatters can legally gain ownership. It’s an onerous, time-consuming process, but it’s been done before. In San Francisco, squatters are breaking into vacant properties, creating a nightmare made for television. This recently happened to my client’s vacant two-unit property located in an affluent San Francisco neighborhood. Neighbors called the police, who couldn’t do anything without the owner present. It took five days to track down the owner and couple more days before the owner could arrive. As the police were coming to the property one of squatters remarked to the owner as he entered the building, “this is my property now”.
Hours later, the two squatters and 2 pitbulls were removed, leaving behind ~$13,000 in damages. The male intruder was arrested, and the women, who had a delightful vocabulary, was given a misdemeanor. She was arrested later when she came back to grab the stolen scooter which was parked at the curb. Heehee!
An updated list of vacant SF properties are posted quarterly on website “food not bombs.” A spinoff of this organization called “Homes Not Jails” was organized in 1992 according to SFGate. One of their missions is to house the homeless by helping them find and utilize vacant buildings. SFGate reports that according to their website they’ve been very successful.
It’s mandatory in SF to register a property that has been vacant for more than 30 days. The registration fee is ~$750, and the fine for not registering is up to nine times the application fee. I’m not sure what’s worse…paying the fine or potentially having my registered vacant property listed on the internet.
By the time the squatters were removed from the building, the streets were blocked off, there were 13 police officers surrounding the building some with body shields, weapons, battering ram as neighbors looked on. Just another day in San Francisco Real Estate.
Remember, When it comes to Real Estate…Pat Rocks!