It turns out it’s a heck of a lot harder to remove a trespassing stranger from your house, than you would think.
He may have broken your window and climbed into your house and then camped out there, but even so, all the squatter has to do is go to housing court and claim that a scammer rented him the place. Which is what Clark Eli-Selassie did, to block the property owners from evicting him. And it may work well. He could be there for up to another year, all the while, paying no rent, and making it ever more likely the property owner, without obtaining rental income, could end up losing the home in foreclosure.
In this case, it could take so long to get this deadbeat-scammer-squatter out of her home, that the owner, Maria Diaz, stands a good chance of losing her home in foreclosure if she cannot get the squatter out of it.
City housing law mandates that landlords initiate lengthy eviction proceedings if an alleged squatter can prove he has lived somewhere more than 30 days.
One lawyer who specializes in such matters, Adam Leitman Bailey, said the process could take up to a year. “He can probably celebrate next Christmas there, too,” he said of Selassie.
Diaz does not have that kind of time. She said she’d have to declare bankruptcy and give up her Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, El Azteca, unless she sells the building before she loses it to a Texas bank.