Squatters Invade Homeowner’s Building While He Tended To Sick Wife

Squatters took over a Georgia man’s empty rental home while he was elsewhere caring for his ill wife.  Removing squatters is particularly difficult under the current legal constraints. It happened in DeKalb County, near Atlanta, where squatting is a huge problem for many neighborhoods.

According to Paul Callins, a real estate agent who spoke with local Atlanta news, the intruders and a U-Haul full of their belongings broke into his home.

Callins inherited the home from his father, who passed away from cancer. It required extensive renovations, on which he spent thousands of dollars. He believes that an ad he posted online led to the squatters moving in and taking control.

He told the outlet that three squatters had stolen the home and showed the police a fake lease via a cell phone.  A reporter tried to speak with the squatters, but they refused to answer any questions.

According to the National Rental Home Council trade organization, squatters have taken over at least 1,200 properties in the region.  Homeowners like Callins have few alternatives under current state legislation to reclaim their property.

Reports show that legislators in Georgia are trying to make squatting a criminal infraction, which is now regarded as a civil problem. Representative Devan Seabaugh (R-GA), a co-sponsor of House Bill 1017, said last month that the squatting situation demands action.

The new Georgia Squatter Reform Act, HB 1017, explicitly defines criminal trespassing, emphasizing the need for law enforcement rather than civil courts to address the issue. Under HB 1017, people believed to be squatters will be given three business days to provide documents proving their authorization to stay on the property. Insufficient paperwork may result in penalties, criminal trespass, and expulsion from the property. Despite the bill’s lone Republican sponsor, it has received tremendous support from both parties.  Next, it will be considered by the Senate after unanimous passage in the State House.

According to Callins, he was informed that he needed to submit an Affidavit of Intruder for a judge’s signature. The next step would be to contact the county sheriff’s office and request that the invaders be removed. The legal process may take up to ninety days.