Residents of a Winter Park, Florida neighbourhood claim squatters have turned their neighbourhood into a “nightmare” and have not been removed because the police force is “handcuffed” from taking any action.
Winter Park resident Justin Mielcarek told WFTV 9, “It’s been a nightmare.”
The news organisation went to Fifeshire Drive in the town and claimed that locals were ready to speak out about the squatting problems, particularly one home that has allegedly been the source of conflict since squatters allegedly moved in in June.
Despite the home’s owner living abroad, Mielcarek and other neighbours claimed they first noticed full garbage cans, shades covering all the windows, and a car in the driveway at the house back in June.
When the neighbours’ concerns about their new neighbours were aroused, they called the property management to find out more information, but the company said it had no records of any tenants. The alleged squatters reportedly fled across fences, jumped out of windows, and even landed in a swimming pool after police were summoned, according to WFTV.
“K9 units, helicopters. Gentlemen running, police officers chasing after them,” one neighbour, who only identified by her first name Leslie, said.
Since then, the residence has apparently been the subject of 14 police calls as a result of complaints from the neighbourhood about cars visiting the house at all hours of the night, lights beaming into other houses nearby, and speeding on the neighbourhood roads. Residents claim that because of the alleged squatters, police are patrolling the neighbourhood more closely.
Neighbours claim that because the alleged squatters produced fake lease paperwork, police had refrained from making any arrests. According to the outlet, the true homeowner sued to have the squatters removed, but the neighbours accused her of engaging in squatting behaviour.
“I think we need to figure out something,” Mielcarek said. “The cops are handcuffed because they can’t do anything … and the court process takes however long it takes. You wish it was a little bit of a faster process.”
According to them, the owner has resisted offers from eager bidders while neglecting to maintain the property.
“We have three rental properties on the street alone, and it’s very evident which they are because they’re not kept up,” neighbour Christine Armstrong said.
In fact, according to Armstrong, one of her children was almost hit by the squatters on the street.
“On one occasion, a few days ago, [one of the occupants] almost hit one of my children,” Armstrong said.
A judge allegedly signed a final judgment against the alleged squatters last week, according to a lawyer for the homeowner trying to evict them. Once the verdict is formally listed on the court calendar, the attorney will be allowed to submit an application for a writ of possession.
The occupants of the house, however, assert that they were duped and that they were brought there by their cousin, who they then paid rent to. The cousin reportedly vanished after that.
Since the epidemic, squatting occurrences in Florida and other states have increased in number, often involving the production of fake identification by squatters in order to occupy a property.
According to a story, the woman who was arrested in Bonita Springs last week for allegedly moving unlawfully into a multi-million dollar beach house with her dog was found by police to be wearing the attire of the real owner at the time of her arrest. Earlier this summer, 10 squatters in Fort Lauderdale were evicted from a million-dollar residence after it had been left bug- and damage-infested. While other police officers in Port Orange, Florida, demolished buildings on a squatter-infested island known for drug use in June.