You’ve saved up for years to buy a house, you find the home of your dreams, buy it and get ready to move in only to find out that there’s a squatter living in it. It happened to Zael Zura and his fiancee Veronica Botts when they bought their dream home and discovered on move-in day that alleged serial squatter, James McClung, was living there posing as a renter. Notice I said “serial squatter” because this vagrant has pulled this scam several times before and is probably pulling it even as we speak. The home that he targeted was a recently renovated bank-owned home in Shoreline, Washington. Zura and Botts put an offer on that home on the day Zura proposed to Botts. They discovered the vagrant 10 days before closing, when Zura drove by the house, that was supposed to be vacant, and found strangers living in their enchanted newlywed cottage. This was the same day as their engagement party too. What a way to ruin a celebration.
The KOMO-TV reported described the conversation that occurred during the initial confrontation. “I thought, what are they doing here, what are they stealing, and why are they here?” Zura said. “I asked (one of them) who she was and she said, ‘Oh, I’m the new tenant.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t believe we’ve rented to you, so who are you?'” Realizing that this conversation was going nowhere, Zura called the police after finding the Realtor’s lockbox had been cut and the locks on the door had been changed and a deed had been posted to the outside.
The deed, filed in Snohomish County, was James McClung’s attempts to pretend to lay claim to the home, which county records clearly shows is owned by a bank. The deed was notarized by Jill Lane. The Kirkland police opened an investigation on McClung and Lane. Lane is also believed to be squatting in a $3.2 million bank-owned mansion in Seattle. During their investigation, they discovered McClung’s name popping up on several forged documents trying to stake claim on several bank-owned homes in Kirkland, Bellevue and Edmonds.
Naturally McClung insists he did nothing wrong, saying that the bank’s interest in the property is invalid due to illegal foreclosure practices so he has a legal claim to it. Whatever. He also went on to say that, “The machine that I’m fighting is the bankers. I’m just one of the little guys who’s fighting that,” McClung added. I think it sounds like another case of “sticking it to the man.”
In the meantime, the people who did everything right, Botts and Zura, are the real victims here, not the bank. They gave notice on their rented home after they entered into contract with the bank, but the closing has been delayed because of McClung’s antics. Maybe they can stay in another property owned by the bank, if McClung’s gang hasn’t claimed all of them by “sticking it to the man.”
“He’s ruined it,” Botts said. “He’s taken it away from us. We can’t have this house anymore, because he’s trying to make a buck off of something he doesn’t own.”
If you ask me, if McClung likes squatting in homes he doesn’t own, they should give him a free room in a big house. Actually, The Big House, aka prison.
If you want to avoid situations like this, give notice to your landlord to move out one month after the closing date. Sure it may cost more, but I know at least two people that wouldn’t have minded paying extra, Zura and Botts. I bet they’re glad they did a drive-by before they closed on the property. If you’re buying, you should monitor your new home during the closing period and do a walkaround the day of closing to make sure nothing looks out of the normal.
Original Article: >> http://www.seattlepi.com/local/429418_house1.html
How dreadful to finding your dream home has squatters in it after putting an offer on it, and ten days before closing. It is a very strange world that we live in where this type of behavior is still tolerated.
Wow I never knew this was possible. You can tell these folks have been doing this for some time… I mean how do you pull this off on $3.2 million home?
That McClung character sure has a set on him for sure..I love the notion of him saying that he’s fighting the Bank machine..lol
This is the same thing as steeling but yet these squatters have rights? I do not get it. I had great neighbors who lived next door for me for years but they moved out in November do to forecloser and within two weeks, a family of squatters moved in. I found out a bank bought it at auction but they haven’t put a for sale sign on it. Mean while, these sqatters who have been living for free for 5 months, never mowed the lawn,trash is piled up in the back, they are loud, and dirty. I live on a small culdesac and everyone keeps there yard nice and then we have this house. I notified the bank and they are looking into the matter but so far nothing has been done.
That’s horrible. Now that they have invaded the home they have occupancy rights & must be evicted using the same processes as a legal tenant. Change that law & all this would go away.
If there isn’t a worry of violence, I’d look at ways to make the squatters not want to live there. You could do things like call the police for any reason or on the nights they are loud, you be loud the following morning. Try mowing their yard the next morning. You can pass it off as kindness. Also on hot nights it would be a shame if their AC condenser’s fuses were pulled.
When you do get them out you need to patrol the house daily and make it look lived in.
Great advice Bill but I think I found a solution. I called the bank that bought it at action and let them know what is going on and told them because they are the legal owners, they need to clean there yard and trim the trees back so they are not hanging over my wall. They had no idea there where squatters there and had there realitor come out the next day and they had to ask permission to mow there own lawn! Can you belive that. After, the realitor came to my house to let me know what is going on and they are going to start the legal process to get them out so they can put the house on the market. Hopefully they will be out soon.
I hope for your sake they do leave. Congratulations solving the problem. It’s a shame the squatters have more of a legal right to the property than the bank. All these problems would go away overnight if they could be arrested for vandalism, breaking and entering, robbery, etc. Of course allowing castle law to be in effect for vacant properties would create a quick exodus too.
Please let us know when they move out and thanks for sharing.
With the number of squatting cases I have dealt with in past 12 months one comes to mind ….
This wasn’t actually a squat, it was a private landlord who’d let to their agent to sublet to the tenant and when the relationship between landlord and agent went sour the landlord started trying to force the tenant to pay the rent to them despite the tenancy agreement being with the agent and when she wouldn’t (because that would leave her open to possession from the agent) they claimed she was a squatter and tried to IPO her. They then didn’t even turn up to the hearing and got a costs order against them. What’s the betting that if all squatting = offense comes in, we’ll see more shenanigans like this, with landlords trying to circumvent possession by lying to Police that the tenant’s a squatter.
You may be right but considering that even a squatter has to be evicted the same as if they were a legal tenant, it doesn’t really give the landlord any advantages. Furthermore, such accusations are easily disputed by having the tenant show a copy of the signed lease, mail sent to that address, copies of past payments to landlord, etc. Why would the landlord want to remove the tenant by any means? The only reason I would want to is if the tenant is either damaging the property, disturbing neighbors, using the property for illegal purposes, or not paying rent. Tenant / landlord relations don’t go sour without reason. If the tenant fails to live up to their responsibilities as stated in the lease they shouldn’t be surprised that the landlord wants them out. After all, the landlord is trusting that this tenant will take care of the landlord’s property and pay the landlord for the privilege of living there. If the tenant fails to do these then the landlord can’t make a living. Landlords weren’t put on this earth to supply free housing for anyone wanting it, and they don’t like throwing people out on the streets for the thrill of it. There has to be a good reason.