Eviction moratorium hurts Miami property owner dealing with squatters flashing fake lease

MIAMI – Patricia Guerrero said she is working full time to pay the mortgage of a home that she is supposed to be renting. Instead, she said there are squatters with a fraudulent lease, and the coronavirus pandemic’s eviction moratorium is protecting them.

Guerrero said she has been in this situation for more than nine months now. She bought the house in 2018, renovated it, and when her tenants moved out, she sold it. There was money in escrow, but in April, right before closing, squatters moved in.

“I am a landlord and I don’t have any rights,” Guerrero said. “They do have rights; I don’t.”

Guerrero said Miami police officers told her it was a civil matter. She took her case to court and a Miami-Dade County judge issued an eviction, but since it was filed after March 12, the moratorium prohibits officers from enforcing it.

“I understand that there is a moratorium for nonpayment of rent. This is not nonpayment of rent; this is a squatter,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero said the situation with the squatters is affecting her health because she is so stressed. She is not sure how long she will be able to afford to pay the mortgage before she has to go into foreclosure.

Records show more than 7,700 evictions have been filed in Miami-Dade and more than 6,355 in Broward County since March 20.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava is reviewing her predecessor’s moratorium to consider cases like Guerrero’s, a county spokesperson said. The federal eviction moratorium was extended until Jan. 31.

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.