A Chicago woman found herself embroiled in an expensive and time-consuming legal battle with a squatter she discovered in her family home while trying to sell the property.
Karen Polk told WGN-TV this week that she was tidying up her family’s home in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood in order to sell the property now that her mother had passed away and discovered a squatter had sneaked in and refused to leave.
Polk said the people in the house told him that they paid money several months rent up front to another person and signed a lease. She said she wasn’t sure if that was true or part of a scam, but that she is now stuck in a legal battle trying to figure it out.
“This all started in September, but we didn’t get a court date until mid-December,” Polk said. “And that particular session, none of the occupants showed up. That’s just how the process goes. If they don’t show up, another court date is assigned.”
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A WGN reporter confronted the female squatter, who is living in the home with her children, and she claimed that she had been scammed herself but was unable to provide any documentation or lease agreement to back up her claim.
Aaron Stanton, a real estate attorney in Chicago, told WGN that he had heard of this type of scam happening before.
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“I wouldn’t say it’s prevalent, but it happens more than you think,” Stanton told the outlet. “The problem is anyone can print a lease off from the internet. Fill it out. Put the address in. Sign a bogus landlord.”
Stanton said Polk’s legal battle could “take anywhere from six months to 12 months to possibly 18 months” if the squatters know how to “work the system and get delays in court.”
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“In the meantime, they are in your home.”