Men Arrested for Living in Vacant Home for Sale

vacant homeTwo men who trespassed at a $1.1 million Huntington Beach, Calif., investor's vacant home for sale and claimed to be tenants were arrested after the real estate agent notified police that someone had changed the locks and taken down the for sale sign, reported the Orange County Register.

Realtor Dave Macleod told AOL Real Estate that when he arrived at the 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home (pictured below) with his handyman to have him drill the lock and rekey it, "We heard yelling inside. They kept saying, 'Don't come in.' They tried to claim they had a lease."

Squatters claiming to have leases on vacant properties is a growing problem in California ever since a 2010 law said that tenants cannot be booted out before the end of their lease after a home goes into a foreclosure, unless they accept payment from the bank or investor to leave before the end of the lease term, says Macleod.

However, Hoan Huu Nguyen, 37, of Santa Ana, and Jose Alfredo Olivares, 37, of Houston, who were both arrested on suspicion of burglary, trespassing and resisting arrest, were not tenants, says Macleod, who has a pending sale on the home for his investors.

"They came up with a fake lease. They had legal documents in boxes. They even had computers set up already. The police took the computers and all the boxes of their legal stuff. We suspect this was a whole operation involving other homes."

In exclusive photos obtained by AOL Real Estate from the day of the arrest, Olivares is seen on the balcony of the home.

Macleod became aware of the alleged trespassers when his professional stager went to check on the furniture and couldn't get in. He sent an associate, Michael Miller, over with a spare key, and that didn't work either, so he knew something was up.

The house, at 8426 Terranova Circle, two blocks from the ocean, was purchased for $883,616 by his investors at a foreclosure auction in October 2010. They had to pay $9,000 to legitimate tenants who had eight months left on a $3,000 monthly lease in order to get them to move out early. The investors also paid about $20,000 in back property taxes, in addition to repairs, he said.

The property, which has travertine floors and granite counters, was originally owned by a female investor who purchased it new for $1.705 million when it was built in 2006, along with several other homes at the time. This two-story home, which a main floor bedroom and three-car attached garage, went into default at $1,662,768 before his investors purchased it.

Macleod says that sellers and agents have to put in some precautions when dealing with a recently purchased foreclosure. "I send out an email to my investors with vacant homes to make sure that they drive by them every day or every other day and alert all the neighbors [to the status of the home]. I go give neighbors my card and have them call me immediately if they suspect anything."

He says it's not just squatters to watch out for, but also thieves. "People do go and burglarize these homes, too. I had a Bank of America home that was foreclosed on and once the home was secured and the person was out, I found out that someone had later stolen the water heater and lighting fixtures. This happens in all the neighborhoods, even lower income ones."

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