HomeLatest NewsProperty Owners Plagued by Squatters as Philadelphia Officials Appear to Not Care

Property Owners Plagued by Squatters as Philadelphia Officials Appear to Not Care

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Philadelphia’s squatters are causing havoc on landlords and homeowners, but one property management company claims that police and city officials don’t seem to care.

Anchor Realty NE owner Walter Lapidus stated that although a court order might be issued to expel a squatter from their property, the sheriff will go to the location and if the squatter refuses, they will not allow the conflict to escalate. “They’ll just leave, and force us to refile their” writ in possession.

Squatters are causing long-lasting and expensive legal problems for homeowners across the United States. Megan Spangler, Anchor Realty NE, said that it can cost upwards of $3,500 to begin the court process to remove squatters. She also stated that $1,600 is required to move the suspects out of the house and store their possessions for a month.

Spangler stated that it takes almost a year for these people to be released. It is a long process. It is also very costly.

Lapidus stated that he believed the city was moving in the right direction when it passed an ordinance to speed up the removal of squatters from residential properties. It also imposed a $300 fine for each day the trespassing continued, as well as jail time. The ordinance also allowed police to investigate allegations of squatting and file affidavits to obtain arrest warrants or search warrants.

Lapidus stated that “the police refuse to do this.” “And the process itself… has gotten longer than it used to be.” This is why there is no enforcement. “The majority of people who ask about this bill don’t know it was ever passed.”

Philadelphia Police Department didn’t respond to questions regarding its response to reports of squatting.

David Oh, a former city councilman, is running for Philadelphia mayor. He was the one behind the ordinance’s original passage in 2018. However, a second council member introduced a bill similar to the original ordinance within months of its passage. Oh stated that it “basically gutted all homeowner protections and created loopholes that anyone could claim.”

Cherelle Parker, the sponsor, stated that the replacement law was passed later in the year to balance “penalties and protections for victims, rightful dwellers” and “penalties to criminals.”

This reduced the penalties and jail time that could have been levied against squatters, gave more time to alleged squatters for leave if they claimed they fell for a rental scheme, and protected them from being removed from the property if they claimed to be victims of domestic violence or sexual harassment by either the owner or another person who has recently lived on the property.

The changes render the law inapplicable.

He stated that “the opposition to my bill was, People in other people’s homes is an approach to address homelessness’.”

Oh’s bill stated that homeowners cannot have been in a landlord-tenant relationship to the squatter. Opponents thought that using law enforcement and courts to remove squatters was creating a slippery slope where landlords, as well as other people, will use the police to remove those who have a legitimate claim to a property.

Spangler, a Philadelphia resident, said that the lack of action by the city is frustrating.

She said, “I am one of these people who live in these neighborhoods.” “I have to deal with squatters, people you’re locking away, and they don’t care about my neighborhood.”

She said, “I don’t think citizens know what they’re getting into when voting for our public officials…certain people are out to our best interests but a lot are not.”

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