August 7, 2012

Bankruptcy stalls squatters’ eviction

A Colorado family is fighting to reclaim their home, after two strangers squatting in the house filed for bankruptcy, preventing them from being evicted.

An Arapahoe County judge ruled on July 12 that Dayna and Troy Donovan could return to their home of 13 years, giving the illegal occupants, who had been squatting in the house for nearly eight months, 48 hours to leave the property, CBS4 reported.

But just when their home seemed to be within their grasp, the Donovans learned that one of the squatters, Veronica Fernandez-Beleta had filed for bankruptcy just before the forced eviction was scheduled to take place — halting the Arapahoe County's eviction for the foreseeable future.

"The sheriff's office will not proceed with an eviction if there is a bankruptcy in question," Arapahoe County Undersheriff David Walcher told CBS4.

The ordeal began when Troy and Dayna left their Littleton, Colo., home in August 2011to relocate to Indiana, where Troy got a temporary job with a race team.

When they returned to Littleton eight months later, they found Fernandez-Beleta squatting with Jose Rafael Leyva-Caraveo in their home — both strangers refusing to leave.

CBS 4 Denver The squatters can’t be evicted immediatedly because one of them has declared bankruptcy.

"It's frustrating. It's just one thing after another, after another," Dayna told ABC News. "We've lost two months' time. It has been an absolute living nightmare and an emotional roller coaster."

Fernandez-Beleta and Leyva-Caraveo said that they had bought the home from real estate agent, Alfonso Carillo, for $5,000. Carillo's license has since been revoked.

The pair also showed police Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder paperwork containing an affidavit of "adverse possession," with their names and the Littleton home's address on it.

"I am sad and confused and distressed," Fernandez-Beleta told CBS4 in Spanish.

The law of adverse possession, in Colorado, allows possessors who claim property for 18 years without dispute to become owners of the land, Denver real estate attorney Willis Carpenter told ABC.

"Anybody that told Fernandez-Beleta and Levya-Caraveo they could have that home for $5,000 by adverse possession, that's obviously fraud," Willis said.

The Donovans' experience is representative of a larger issue that has arisen out of the recession.

Squatters across the country have been claiming "adverse possession" to obtain legal possession of unoccupied homes.

The law of adverse possession varies from state to state but most tenants must live on the land for a certain period of time — usually at least seven years — before they can claim it as their own.

One squatter claimed possession of an Arlington, Texas, home late last year after the homeowner went to Houston for chemotheraphy, according to Fox News.

articles.nydailynews.com


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