Squatters continue to plague local landowners

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Remedies can be time-consuming

Local law enforcement officials continue to handle calls about squatters illegally occupying area houses that are vacant because they are under renovation or under contract with a realtor for sale.

Members of the Barry-Lawrence chapter of Crime Stoppers heard from Lt. Det. Dave Haskins, with the Monett Police Department, that officers continue to respond to calls concerning illegal occupation of homes within the city limits.

In Missouri, squatters have to be legally evicted. The most common eviction cause is a failure to pay rent. In this case, the landowner can serve the squatter with a demand for rent, whereby the squatter is allowed a limited amount of time to pay past due and current rental fees.

Landowners also have the option of serving a 10-day notice to vacate. This is an alternate approach that can be used if there are illegal activities, besides trespassing, taking place on the property, or if the rental unit is seriously damaged.

After those options are exhausted, the landowner can file a notice of eviction. It is important to note only the sheriff can remove squatters. Local police can remove an illegal trespasser, but squatters are out of their jurisdiction.

While these are viable options for a property owner who has been surprised to find illegal tenants residing in a home, it can be costly.

Applicable forms and instructions on how to legally evict squatters may be found at eforms.com/eviction/mo.

In other reports, officers from Monett and Purdy reported that counterfeit bills are again making their way through southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Those most often circulated have been identified as $100 denominations bearing Chinese writing in red ink on the backs of the bogus bills.

“They are really terrible counterfeits,” said Donna Beckett, secretary for the local chapter of Crime Stoppers, and chief operating officer at CNB in Monett. “They are usually identifiable immediately.”

Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe also reported that Barry County Sheriff deputies continue to work a number of burglaries throughout the county.

Pierce City Police Chief Mike Abramovitz said two subjects had been identified and questioned in connection with the break-in at the district’s bus barn over the Christmas holidays, as well as vandalism to school buildings that occurred during the same time frame.

“There was quite a bit of damage at the bus barn,” Abramovitz said.

Jay Jastal, school resource and community education officer with the Monett Police Department, also cautioned members about a letter area residents had been reporting that offers free internet service.

“I’ve looked into it, and it appears to be legitimate,” he said. “That said, I would caution anyone who takes advantage of this offer to be careful about the information they put in their computer. Once the program is installed or the service connected, it will allow the provider access to whatever is in your computer, and that’s when bad things start happening.”

The next meeting of the Barry-Lawrence chapter of Crime Stoppers will be at noon on Thursday, Feb. 20, at Angus Branch Steakhouse, located at 114 Chapell Dr. in Monett.

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