With evictions on hold, Miami homeowner in tough spot after family signs alleged fake lease to live in home

Police investigating, say both homeowner and tenant are victims

MIAMI – A Miami-Dade County homeowner is dealing with a surprising and unexpected side effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are currently no evictions being enforced, or ejectments, which is a form of eviction, and limited-to-no access to courtrooms.

Caught in the middle is Patricia Guerrero, who owns a home on Northwest 59th Street in Miami.

Currently living inside her home, without her knowledge or permission, is another family.

"I have never expected this to be even possible," she said. "It never crossed my mind."

Guerrero had a sale in place for the home she bought as an investment property, but that deal is now off.

"The money of the new owner was in the bank, to be transferred to me Friday, but we couldn’t do it because she refused to leave," Guerrero said, referring to the woman who is living inside the home.

The owner of this home is extremely upset, unable to sell it due to a woman living there without the authorization of the homeowner. (WPLG)

The state of emergency in Florida has placed a moratorium on evictions. Local 10 News' spoke with attorneys who have expertise in this area regarding Guerrero's situation.

Unfortunately for her, the message from the attorneys was the same.

"It looks like she’s out of luck right now," said attorney Joe Hernandez with Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman.

"With no evictions being done at the moment, she has no legal recourse, at the moment," added Isaac Spragg with Spragg Law Firm.

According to police, the woman and her family currently living inside Guerrero's home claims that they saw the house for rent on Facebook, gave somebody a deposit and moved in. The woman also provided police with a lease, which they are investigating as it appears to be fake.

"From the police perspective, they can't determine if this is a valid lease or not," said Spragg. "They cannot make this determination on the spot, without the courts assistance."

"This is an example of these things that are unintended consequences of an executive order," said Hernandez.

According to the law, if Guerrero was to move all of the family's property out of the home and change the locks, she could be in trouble.

"If she went there and said, 'I own his property, this is my property, and I'm going to make you leave,' and throws their stuff, out changes the locks, that would be a self-help eviction and that is unlawful," explained Spragg.

Miami police said they believe there are two victims in this case.

Guerrero, who lawfully owns the home, and also the woman who rented the home. That woman gave somebody a deposit and signed a fake lease, and she is now cooperating with authorities, who are investigating.

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