Fresno Homeowners in Legal Battle with Squatters

December 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Owners of a Northwest Fresno home say they can't get inside their own home. The house is located near Ashlan and Hughes. The owners say the squatters were never supposed to be tenants. Now they won't leave.Warren and Shirley King hold the deed to the home, and pay the taxes. But after they offered to let a couple move in with them, the Kings say they've been locked out.

The Kings say they tried to help a technician claiming to be down on his luck by allowing him to move into their home while they were away.

Shirley King said, "He told me he was starving he had no food."

"They were to house sit when my wife wasn't there, open for the realtor and pay $500 dollars for utilities," said Warren King.

But the couple says after George Davis and Nadine Willey moved in the Kings haven't been allowed on the property of their Northwest Fresno home.

"I got completely taken in, we really liked George," said Shirley.

The Kings have a second home in the Fresno County Foothills and didn't want to leave this one vacant because they were trying to sell it.

In three months, they say they've never been paid ... the locks have been changed ... and Davis and Willey claim to have a restraining order against King if he steps foot on the property without a 24 hour notice.

Warren said, "Nadine said no this is our home now. You don't live here anymore."

We tried to talk with Davis and Willey ... but no one answered the front door. Action News Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi says it's almost impossible to throw them out without going to court.

Capozzi said, "The house sitter has no rights there, but since they've been there for a prolonged period of time I think the owner has to give them a 30 day notice."

The Kings have filed court documents to evict the squatters. In a letter written in October, Davis and Willey promised to move out no later than November 15th. But now they are fighting the eviction.

Court documents show Willey complained the owners shut off water and utilities to the home.

Former Landlord David Powell said, "This is a pattern for these people even thought they are ... on the front end they are planning to defraud you."

David Powell is familiar with Davis and Willey. He evicted the couple from his property in July after he says they never paid rent as promised. He believes they know their way around the system.

"The thing is there is so little protection for people like Mr. King from the law," said Powell.

"Going to the police isn't going to help because this is a civil matter so it has to be taken to civil court," said Capozzi.

Warren said, "We were just trying to give him a helping hand."

The Kings say they have a potential buyer for their home but without being allowed in to show it ... they may lose an opportunity to sell. The eviction case is set to go to court on December 15th. Experts say before entering into any agreement make sure you have it in writing first to protect yourself.


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