Woman takes back her Miami home after invasion by squatters

Coronavirus eviction moratorium protected the ‘renters’

MIAMI – Patricia Guerrero had been dealing with squatters for months. She had asked judges and police officers for help, but no one solved her problem. This week, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

Guerrero had been working full time to pay the mortgage of a home invaded by squatters who showed police officers a fraudulent lease. The coronavirus pandemic’s eviction moratorium protected them.

“They wouldn’t help,” Guerrero said, adding, “I have been paying the mortgage. I have been paying property taxes that partially fund the police that is supposed to protect me and is protecting the crooks.”

Guerrero is caught in the middle of bureaucratic red tape. Miami-Dade remains under an eviction moratorium. The federal government’s evictions moratorium also remains in effect until the end of the month, so Miami-Dade Police are not enforcing evictions filed after March 12.

While the moratorium is to protect legal renters who can’t afford to pay rent due to COVID-19 issue, it’s also protecting squatters who never paid rent in the first place even with a judge’s order to remove the squatters.

Guerrero said she had been trapped for more than nine months when she learned the squatters hadn’t been in the home for a few weeks. She rushed to the home she purchased in 2018 and changed the locks.

“Those people that abuse the system have more rights than I do,” Guerrero said.

The home was empty when they invaded it because she was in the process of selling it. They left behind furniture, rotten food, clothing, and even tires. She was cleaning up on Friday in preparation to put the home back in the market.

A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava released a statement saying officials are reviewing the policy that affected Guerrero and change is coming.

Guerrero said the whole ordeal has cost her more than $30,000.


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