Sunday, August 21, 2011

Squatting






Instances of squatting are on the rise, especially with the increased numbers of foreclosed properties to choose from. Squatting is a worldwide problem, with estimates that 1 in 6 of the planet's residents are illegitimately occupying their homes. Rather than doing a round-up of some of the most unbelievable squatting stories, I bring you the recent story (text here, video here) of Julia High, longtime resident of Leytonstone, east London. Put yourself in her shoes - the squatters did...

After work on a Friday earlier this month, the 55-year-old immigration officer headed to Guildford, Surrey, to spend the weekend with her parents. She followed that up with attendance at a performance the Royal Albert Hall on Monday night. Returning home, Julia was surprised to find that her door had been levered open. She knocked and describes, "The women came to the door dressed in my clothes, they were sitting around my dining room table, drinking my wine out of my glasses. They even offered me a drink and told me they were from Romania. They said I was dead and my son had rented the house to them. I am very much alive, single and I don't have a son." The following day Julia secured a county court eviction order, which the police served that evening on the family of 8 recent immigrants. The 35-year-old mother of 4 (ages 4, 12, 14, and 16) and her 54-year-old aunt (with 2 teenagers, 14 and 16) insisted their bogus tenancy documents were legal. Neighbors knew better, and had contacted Julia's parents during her absence. "As far as I am aware she is very much alive and she certainly was when she left our house this morning," said her octogenarian mother. Meanwhile, the squatters ransacked the house, leaving most of the rooms uninhabitable. They stuffed her belongings into garbage bags and suitcases, dumping them in her back garden. They stole her computer and digital camera, and ate the food in her refrigerator. They took up and discarded her carpets. They removed lead roofing, causing water damage in the kitchen and bathroom. Julia ended up putting many of her belongings out on the street for pick-up by the trash collectors, after which the squatters returned to retrieve the clothes she had discarded! Concludes Julia, "These people have just trashed 30 years of my life and thrown it into bin bags. It is soul destroying."

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