LAKEWOOD, CA – There is something seriously awry in California, as a family that has owned a home for over an entire year hasn’t been able to move inside of the home they purchased in Lakewood.
The reason why: a 51-year-old woman is squatting inside their home, and the laws are actually protecting the squatter’s active occupation.
Weeks after FOX 11 first shared their story, a Lakewood family is still unable to return to their own home due to a squatter taking advantage of the eviction moratorium. https://t.co/6BxZfaGBGa
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) July 10, 2021
Korri Olson, her husband and their 2-year-old son are still caught in the middle of a struggle to get access to their home they bought during the summer of 2020. Yet, due to an obese 51-year-old woman who won’t even let the family come on the property without formal notice, Olsen’s family are barred from forcing the woman out.
The homeowners are essentially trapped by the likes of squatter’s rights and eviction moratoriums established during the pandemic, which are treating Olsen’s family like landlords and the squatter as a tenant.
Except, the family never rented out the property to the woman – she simply moved in her belongings some time ago and has been camping out in the living room of the home.
The family was originally dealing with about half a dozen squatters at first, which Olsen said they had to hire an attorney and pay out tens of thousands of dollars to the squatters to get them to leave the home.
However, the solitary woman remains, and apparently can’t be forced out the home.
According to reports, this squatter is allegedly bedridden due to her obesity and other health issues, and actually gets visited daily by a local social worker. This squatter hasn’t been employed since the mid-1990s reportedly and lives off of government assistance.
Squatter on social assistance takes advantage of eviction moratorium, leaving homeowners in limbohttps://t.co/kF2JyAp4d4
— Logan Byrnes (@LoganByrnes) June 23, 2021
Back in June, Korri said that this squatter’s social worker actually approached her family and offered them information about local shelter they could stay in:
“We were actually told by the social services person dealing with the woman living in the house that they could give us information on shelters for us to stay in.”
In the latest developments, a Norwalk judge did find that this squatter wasn’t adversely affected by COVID-19 in any financial way and thus her case doesn’t fall under the protections outlined in the moratorium on evictions.
Yet, the squatter is apparently demanding a jury trial on the matter, which there aren’t any juries operating within Norwalk specifically due to COVID – which could potentially allow her to occupy the home for several more months.
The home is reportedly in dire need of repairs, with inspectors having found damage to the foundation of the home and a severe mold problem.
On top of paying out thousands to the other squatters, paying the mortgage, paying for inspections to see the accumulating damage that they cannot yet have repaired – Olsen’s family also has stacking legal fees to fight for their rightfully owned home.
As for the squatter, she’s being represented by Legal Aid, which means she doesn’t have to pay anything out of pocket in terms of legal fees to continue squatting in the Olsen’s home.
The Olsen’s have been staying in the bedroom of a relative’s home but are worried that they won’t be able to continue fighting for their home they purchased – partly from the emotional hardships from the debacle, but mainly the rising costs caused by this squatter and the legal system enabling her occupation.
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Back in January, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on another squatting-related incident that took place in Washington back in December.
Yet this squatting scenario involved a group of squatter effectively taking over a motel.
Here’s that previous report.
— Tacoma News Tribune (@thenewstribune) December 30, 2020
Fife Travelodge Motel manager Shawn Randhawa was basically tricked into becoming the unwilling host to 43 occupants that were essentially holding his business hostage.
The manner in which Randhawa was tricked was through a plan enabled and effectively enacted by Tacoma Housing Now (THN), and touted proudly by spokesperson Rebecca Parson.
On Dec. 24, THN booked 16 rooms for a single night at the Travelodge Motel, bringing along dozens of people to occupy those rooms.
Yet, the group that were lodged there by THN had no intention of leaving on the morning of Dec. 25 – nor any intention of personally compensating the motel for the extended stay.
Spokesperson for Tacoma Housing Now:
“We paid for the first night and now we’re demanding that the city and county pay for the other nights we’ve been here.”
— Sebastian Robertson (@srobertsontv) December 30, 2020
In the days that followed, the group of motel squatters managed to breach at least two additional rooms at the property – but it’s unclear how that was accomplished.
The illegal occupation of the property managed to last five days, and THN’s spokesperson Rebecca Parson said that the city should pick up the tab for the rooms. She believes it’s the city’s responsibility to provide housing to the homeless.
Amazing how yall claim "we want to get them paid" but you did not coordinate with anyone to make sure they actually would… And instead resulted to criminal trespass and destruction of property, If THN really wanted em paid… They would have payed em.
— Kriegie (@KriegieGirl) December 30, 2020
But the mental gymnastics used to justify said criminal occupation didn’t end with solely THN’s spokesperson saying that she wanted Randhawa compensated for the rooms by the local government.
The outfit had also taken to Twitter to attempt to justify their enablement of a criminal occupation because Randhawa’s was one of many businesses that received a PPP loan earlier this year:
“Travelodge owner Darshan (Shawn) Randhawa received a $57k PPP loan in April. Why should government money be used to keep employees on staff running an empty building, instead of keeping the building occupied so people don’t freeze to death?”
Travelodge owner Darshan (Shawn) Randhawa received a $57k PPP loan in April. Why should government money be used to keep employees on staff running an empty building, instead of keeping the building occupied so people don’t freeze to death?
— Tacoma Housing Now (@TacHousing) December 29, 2020
Except, according to Randhawa, his business hasn’t exactly been “an empty building” both lately and while the pandemic was hitting hard.
He stated that he normally is able to rent out as many as over 40 rooms per night, and was only seeing about 15 rooms rented per evening in light of the debacle that was ongoing at the time.
Randhawa said that both the occupation and the protests going on at his business are scaring away genuine, paying customers:
“I have lost $2,800 to $3,000 a day, and I might lose employees who want to quit. I barely have 15 rooms instead of my normal average of like 37 to 42 rooms. It was like that even during the pandemic.”
It’s not like Randhawa didn’t personally try to get the people removed from his motel rooms during the initial period of the occupation.
When he discovered that the group had no intention of paying for the rooms the day after they were booked – he enabled the electronic locks on the motel room doors, so the occupants couldn’t reenter once they exited a room.
In response, people in the group forced one of the doors open. THN spokesperson Parson claimed that the group has since fixed the door, but Randhawa felt completely helpless since there wasn’t any legal action taken for days when authorities knew what was going on:
“I don’t think it’s fair. It’s criminal. They are a bunch of thugs. I won’t work with this group. I thought this was the job of the city to enforce the laws of the city. You can’t just take over someone’s house. It’s complete lawlessness.”
While Parson facilitated this effort under the premise of something that is noble – helping out the homeless – she and the occupiers were actively engaged in serious conflict with the law.
After five days of the illegal occupation, police finally stepped in on the morning of December 30th to put an end to the debacle.
Fife Police had descended on the property and ordered all of the non-paying squatters to vacate the premises, which Fife Police Chief Peter Fisher proclaimed that the inhabitants “voluntarily left” the property once ordered by police.
Among those not thrilled about the outcome – and the characterization that the squatters “voluntarily left” is Parson.
When commenting on the illegal occupants being vacated, Parson seemed both astonished and offended that her and the cohorts involved in the stunt may face legal consequences:
“It’s a total joke and an Orwellian use of the word ‘voluntary,’ because the police were at the hotel threatening people with felonies, and they’re now going on the record in news articles saying they might charge us with felonies.”
“So I don’t know what world we live in where threatening someone with felonies if they don’t leave, and then they leave, is that voluntary? Of course not. It was not voluntary.”
Fife Police did confirm that an investigation into the motel occupation is ongoing, and that felony charges could be levied toward alleged enablers and inhabitants.
Chief Peter Fisher also noted that in the event that something like this ever transpires again within the city, that the malefactors involved will be met with “swift and certain actions.”
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