MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A Miami Beach resident, who says police refused to help him remove a squatter who was living in his apartment for six months, was demanding answers. He had to hire an armed security guard and a locksmith to break into his own apartment since the squatter had changed the locks.
According to property owner Kevin Harris, he asked authorities twice to help him remove the squatter who had been living in his apartment for about six months. Harris said police told him to “go through the legal system” and refused to have the man removed from the apartment.
The squatter, Anthony Stewart, never paid rent and never had a lease. The owner said that in order to finally remove Stewart from his apartment Thursday, Harris paid thousands of dollars and even attempted to get a court order to have him legally removed.
Miami-Dade officers would not remove Stewart. There is a moratorium on residential evictions due to COVID-19.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava agrees with Harris in that no resident should have to hire their own security guard or go through the measures he went through, in order to get back into their property.
“Should a homeowner in Miami-Dade County have to hire an armed security guard to get their property back?” Levine-Cava said on Friday. “First of all, squatters are illegal. Squatters are removed by a police department.”
She also added, “If someone has directed them to go to court, that was not correct, and we are going through all of our writs of possession to make sure anyone who is truly a squatter is treated as such.”
This is the latest case in a series of incidents involving squatters in South Florida. According to Levine-Cava, she has never stopped her police department from removing squatters.
However, Harris says when he tried calling the police, he would get responses such as, “I spoke to people over at economic crimes, and basically, well, we can’t do that,” or “I’m not sure, I’m going to check with my supervisor,” or “Let me get back to you.”
Although he says they were kind enough to call him back, they never had an answer.
In his final attempt at getting local authorities to assist him in removing the squatter, Harris called Miami Beach Police one last time.
“I called them yesterday when I was at the airport flying back to resolve this issue, and she’s like, ‘Call us. We will go out there and look at the situation, and we will do what we can do.’”
He says he responded, “You have already been out there twice, and you didn’t do anything.”
Now, Harris has a message for Levine-Cava.
“Ms. Mayor, don’t tell Jeff one thing, and make the citizens and taxpayers go through hoops with no answers.”
Local 10 News has been contacted by numerous property owners and attorneys who have gone through the same situation. On Friday, Levine-Cava said that they would begin evicting squatters immediately, and would begin going through court orders.
“We are ejecting squatters,” she said, “and if there is a concern about that, we want to know about it.”