Woman accused of squatting moves out

Kenia Souto says developer took her $50K deposit for home

MIAMI - A woman accused of squatting in a home that was once for sale for $1.1 million in southwest Miami-Dade moved out Friday.

Neighbors accused Kenia Souto of living in the house in the 34600 block of Southwest 218th Street for free. Police reports show she has lived there since at least November 2011.

On Friday, a U-Haul truck was parked outside the home. Mercantil Commerce Bank, which owns the home, dispatched a security guard to secure the property. He said the moving truck was there at 6 a.m.

"Feels good," said neighbor Tina Nguyen. "They are finally out of our neighborhood. They didn't pay for nothing, so they need to get out."

When first asked by Local 10's Ross Palombo whether she rented or owned the home, Souto told him: "I have no idea."

"Well, what are you doing inside the home?" replied Palombo. 

Souto offered no answer at the time. She denied being a squatter when she spoke to Local 10 Friday.

A police report shows she had keys, electricity, furniture, and the house appeared to have someone living in it when police officers previously questioned her. She told police she was in negotiations with a bank to buy the home, but couldn't remember the name of the bank.

According to records, $29,158 in property taxes are owed on the home. The home's value has since depreciated but is still worth more than $400,000.

The original owner, Ranchos Del Sol, tried ejecting Souto from the home in 2012 but gave up as the house was being foreclosed upon.

Records show Souto was removed from a Miami property in 2004. She was also removed from a Coral Gables property in 2010.

Squatting a growing problem

A Local 10 investigation found squatting nearly tripled from 2011 to 2012 in Miami-Dade County.

The Miami-Dade property appraiser canceled 44 percent of adverse possession claims in the county in response to the growing problem of squatters.

The office said it received 41 claims in the first three months of 2013, which is more than half the total amount received in 2012.

The office, which has 160 claims for all years on record, found 71 of them were non-compliant with Florida Statute Section 95.18, which states that if there is record of a tax payment by the property owner before April 1 following the year in which the tax is assessed, it no longer meets the requirements for claiming adverse possession.

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