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Bruce Bialosky

The Ultimate Destruction of Private Property

The Ultimate Destruction of Private Property
Many changes have occurred in American society over the past few decades, largely due to a surge of Socialism supporters. Most of them call themselves “Progressives.” The honest ones announce they are members of the Democrat Socialists of America. One of the primary tenets of Socialism is aimed to substitute private property for social ownership of public property. The most significant act of this private property destruction is spreading through our country, namely squatters.

Many changes have occurred to the enforcement of our laws. We have seen flash mobs enter stores, taking large amounts of inventory and leaving with no interference attempted. We have seen people saunter into a drug store, take a few things, and walk out unimpeded. The level of disrespect for private property has risen to where a person will go to an inherited home from their recently deceased relatives and find an unauthorized stranger living there. When they go to change the locks, they will be taken away by police for attempting an unlawful eviction. The squatter remains in their house.

How did we come to this? “Squatting” is not a new phenomenon as defined by Dennis Block, a California attorney and nationally known expert on tenant/landlord law, who has specialized in this area for over 40 years. Block told me he has dealt with squatters for his entire career. The action of squatting has become more prevalent recently and the occurrences have been happening more frequently, spreading across the nation. He agreed with my thesis that there is a degradation of appreciation for property rights and there is no bigger validation of that than squatters taking possession of someone’s home.

Mr. Block stated in the 1980s he would have 4-5 cases a year related to squatters. It is a distinct part of the law. If you are a tenant and have not paid your rent, you are dealt with under the law known as “unlawful detainer.” In most states, a landlord must go through a very defined process commonly referred to as “eviction.” Only a sheriff can evict someone. Even if a tenant is months behind on rent, the landlord cannot evict the tenant or get rid of the tenant’s belongings unless through the legal process.

The area of the law regarding squatters is called “forcible detainer.” That is taking property by force or trickery. The problem is the squatters often come very prepared. They will have a fake lease to show to the police. They may have a utility bill in their name. When you call your local utility company to switch service to your name, they never ask whether you have any rights to the property for which you are requesting the service in your name. They only check whether you have a bad pay record with them.

From the 1980’s through the 2000’s, Block’s caseload in this area stayed static even as his overall firm grew. Then something started to change. In 2018-2019, this particular caseload grew to 25-30 a year. Nothing had changed in the law to cause this increase in squatters. California law had become incrementally more pro-tenant, but nothing had changed in the law for squatters. When asked what he thought the proximate was cause for the explosion, he agreed that it is because of a general degradation of regard for private property rights.

We spoke about the law recently put in place to counter squatters in the state of Florida. Block stated that in essence the law reverses the presumption of guilt from the property owner to the squatter. A policeman can identify the owner of a property in five minutes by going to a county website and know the person standing in front of them is the aggrieved party.

Under Florida’s law HB 621, a property owner can request law enforcement immediately remove a squatter from their property if the following conditions are met:

 The individual has unlawfully entered and remains on the property.
 The individual has been directed to leave the property by the owner but has not done so; and,
 The individual is not a current or former tenant in a legal dispute.

Block stated that the Florida law has safeguards to protect against landlords using it with a legitimate tenant that needs to go through the unlawful detainer process.

When asked what he would do to protect Californians from squatters, Block was unequivocal. “Adopt the Florida law.” He suggested that the law might even have more teeth to it with severe financial penalties for a landlord misusing it to evict a real tenant, not a squatter.

It would be a real revelation for the California Legislature to adopt such a law. They have led the way in the destruction of private property rights. As the Florida law starts to be copied throughout the country, you will see squatters moving to greener pastures – the states without such laws.

Folks – be warned. Lock your doors, turn on your alarms, and have someone stay while you are away. States like California, New York, and Illinois that have a significant disregard for private property rights will be havens for squatters. Currently, the law is on their side.