A Philadelphia homeowner, Chris Harte, has claimed he had to pay squatters $1,200 to vacate his property after they changed the locks and left it in disarray. He said he purchased a home in northwest Philadelphia with the intention to renovate and resell it at a later date. But, things took a different twist when a neighbor reported hearing disturbances in the house on December 8.
When the issue was brought to the attention of the city officials after Harte’s real estate agent investigated the incident, they refused to intervene, according to Fox News.
The neighbor noticed people moving into the Philadelphia house owned by Harte, who had renovated it for sale. The squatters had taken down the “for sale” sign. Harte said when he contacted the police, they informed him that the squatters claimed they were renting the property, making it difficult for them to intervene.
Frustrated, Harte, his real estate agent, and a locksmith met with the police at the house the following day.
“I had all my paperwork, purchase and sale agreement, homeowner’s insurance, the deed to the home, everything on me,” he recounted.
According to him, the police seemed nonchalant about his plight. Harte further alleged that the police informed him the squatters had rights and that to evict them, he would need to file a landlord-tenant complaint. However, this process costs over $300 and could potentially take up to a year for a judge to order the squatters’ removal.
He expressed frustration with the concept of squatters’ rights, which he called an oxymoron. “If I walk into a store and steal a bottle of water, they have me on camera, they’re going to take me to jail. But somebody can break into my house, change the locks, and now they have rights?”
Real estate agent Bob Cervone, involved in selling the house affected by squatters, revealed that this issue is increasingly common in Philadelphia. According to him, the police receive three to four similar calls daily. While he had heard of such incidents from other agents and landlords, this was his first direct experience with the problem.
When Fox News contacted the Philadelphia Police Department, they confirmed that Harte was informed about squatters’ rights, and no arrests were made.
Cervone said the squatters, after claiming to have found alternative housing, demanded $2,000 from Harte to vacate the property. After negotiations, Harte managed to settle on a $1,200 payment to facilitate their departure.
Upon regaining access to his property, Harte said he found the residence in a disheveled state with “trash everywhere” but fortunately no damage. According to him, he had to incur an additional cost of nearly $600 for hiring a cleaning company and locksmith.
Despite these challenges, he successfully sold the home last week. Harte indicated that he is now speaking out against liberal politicians, and criticized their policies that grant rights to squatters.
“It’s absolutely preposterous,” he said. “They’re not helping investors like myself who want to improve the city, want to buy these homes and then fix them up and you know, make the city a safer, better-looking area.”
Harte clarified that he doesn’t strongly align with any political party but pointed out that Philadelphia, where he encountered the squatter issue, is governed by Democrats. He suggested there appears to be a “pretty obvious” correlation between Democratic leadership in the city and crime trends across the country.
“We need different politicians,” he said.
“I think their policies are terrible, and they’re ruining many cities all throughout America. And Philadelphia is one of them.”