FAIR OAKS — Tucked down a quiet street in Fair Oaks, a blue house at the end of a cul-de-sac has become a battle ground.
“She has all the rights, and we have none,” said Sandra Forbes.
Welcome mats, rose bushes, perfectly trimmed hedges — all signs of a well-groomed and cared for home. The problem?
Homeowners Sandra and Scott Forbes say this occupant is a squatter. And a well-educated one at that.
“She supposedly paid $1,600 rent and $1,600 deposit to Sandra Forbes, well that’s me,” said Forbes. “I’m telling you right now I’ve never met the woman before in my life.”
And Forbes says she hasn’t seen a dime. She also says that she never rented the home to the person living in it.
The Forbes family is paying the mortgage on the property while this alleged squatter lives there.
“I’m concerned this woman is a complete con and a criminal, and when the sheriff’s asked me ‘What do you want me to do?’ I said ‘arrest her,'” said Forbes.
The house sat vacant for a few weeks as the Forbes tried to sell it. Ultimately, a buyer expressed interest. That’s when the realtor discovered the unwanted visitor.
“We tried to get the key out of our lockbox, which is something we normally put on a house that is listed for sale. Our key didn’t work,” said Maureen Bush, real estate agent with Hughes Real Estate.
Locks were changed and furniture moved in. Effectively making the homeowners trespassers on their own property.
Despite many requests for the alleged squatter to leave, she simply wasn’t budging. Even producing what the Forbes’ say is a fake lease and a SMUD Bill.
Sgt. Tony Turnbull with the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department said Thursday that many squatters are highly educated, and they have learned the loopholes that will keep them from being arrested.
“Folks that do it know their ways around it and know what rights they do have,” Turnbull said.
The homeowners say they are desperate to have the person removed, if not arrested. But as they are finding, squatters rights, are a very real and tricky legal obstacle.
On Thursday, the owners taped an eviction notice and a demand for payment on the front door, yet another message that they aren’t giving up.
FOX40 approached the alleged squatter, she did not offer any comment or documents to prove she legally belongs there. Upon arriving to the home she ripped up the eviction notice.
The woman is described by neighbors as a white-collar criminal. She’s clean cut, an active member of the community, talkative, even friendly.
One neighbor who chose to remain anonymous said, “She’s very nice, I was going to welcome her to the neighborhood.”
But to Forbes and her husband, the woman is a real life nightmare.
“To add insult to injury, she gets to live in the house and have her yellow rose bush, and cut down my trees, and do whatever she wants, and there is nothing I can do,” said Forbes.
The case is now a civil matter and will need to be settled with attorneys.
According to California law, if the alleged squatter pays property taxes for up to five years she could legally become the owner.
It’s a massively frustrating and unexpected scenario for the homeowners who say they are hardworking people.
For now, the battle wages on, but Forbes says she has no intention of losing the war.