Danielle Cruz said she was proud to have purchased this home and even more proud after renovating it. She was happy to sell it. But a stranger moved in right away. When she called the police, they told her there was not much they could do.
Now she could barely stand to look at the property.
“It just brings nothing but bad energy to me,” she said.
Cruz said last month a contractor came to repair her vacant Chatham home and noticed someone inside. She was told all the locks had also been changed.
“We honestly thought he was joking because we knew the house was vacant. My husband just remodeled the house entirely with his own money,” Cruz said. “So we showed up to the police, and there was a young woman in there with all her belongings.”
Cruz said the woman told police she had seen an ad for the home online, signed a monthly lease with a so-called landlord, and paid $8,000 in advance.
Cruz said she had never met the woman and did not lease the property to her. She hoped the police would ask the woman to leave, but since she showed the officers the lease, it was a civil matter.
“They said sorry that they couldn’t prove her trespassing. We had to go to court and go through the deportation process,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s neighbors eagerly talked about the situation.
“Wow, that’s disgusting. It’s theft and it’s not right,” said Chiron Baux, a neighbor.
Quintara Smith, another neighbor, said: “No one wants to come back and someone is living in a block. “It’s scary. I mean, it can happen to anyone.”
“I definitely feel violated,” Cruz said. “Like I said, we may not live here, but it’s still our property. You know, I own this house, and it feels like someone could break into the house. you and take it. It’s scary.”
But as strange as the story is, there is nothing strange about it.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this before. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more common,” said Mo Dadkhah, a real estate attorney in Chicago.
Dadkhah said two possible scenarios: First, someone might have broken into the house, pretended to be the landlord, and fraudulently rented it out. Or, the person inside moved in on their own, created a bogus lease, and presented it to the police.
“So in general, professionals have to figure out how to express some kind of residency,” says Dadkhah. “So I’ve heard a lot of stories – fake leases with the landlord’s name. I’ve seen fake leases with the names of realtors.”
“But if someone enters the property in the middle of the night, nobody sees them enter the property, they have the lease in hand,” he added. “Well, the police couldn’t identify it; they weren’t the judge – it was a fake lease, or it was a fake signature, or it was forged.”
In most cases, as in Cruz’s case, police will refer landlords to Cook County eviction courts, which currently have a very large backlog, he said.
“This process can take six, 12, 18 months,” he said.
But there is another option for homeowners to consider: cash for the keys.
“And while giving money to someone who illegally takes your property and refuses to leave is a hard pill to swallow, you have to think $1,000 or $2,000, or whatever. getting them to leave, it’s less expensive in the long run. to run,” said Dadkhah.
Cruz said she was willing to negotiate and work things out with the woman, but the woman was not willing to talk to her.
“You know, we’re trying to live the American dream,” Cruz said. “They say private property, you know, we’re trying to provide for our family. And then this happens, and it almost makes you never want to own anything. It doesn’t. worth”.
The Chicago Police Department said only the Cook County Sheriff’s Office can proceed with evictions, and the sheriff’s office said only police can form if the law has been violated, which did not happens in this case. So Cruz will have to take the woman to court and wait for the house to be sold.
To prevent this from happening to you, legal experts recommend regularly checking vacant properties, installing cameras and calling the police as soon as someone breaks into your home, and have your neighbors call you if they see something unusual happening at your property. .
The I-Team contacted the woman who lived in Cruz’s home, who said she would get an attorney to respond, but that never happened.
Statement from Cook County Sheriff’s Office
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for getting people out of their homes when they can’t pay their rent or mortgage. There is a clear civil process that individuals follow when that happens. When someone breaks into a home that is required by the local police department to establish a law, they violate it and pursue it as a criminal matter.
Statement from the Chicago Police Department
Officers responded to the criminal’s call to enter a residence at the site. On arrival, the owner of the residence is related to an individual who is in the home. Staff members contacted the individual inside the mansion, whose contacts she met with an unidentified man who claimed to be the residence’s landlord. She also said that she signed a lease and paid a deposit before receiving the keys to the apartment from an individual claiming to be the landlord. Response officers advised the homeowner on eviction proceedings.
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