Tough to Evict Charlotte Area Squatters

CHARLOTTE, NC — It can be incredibly difficult to get a squatter out of a home, and sometimes dangerous, causing major headaches for HOAs and neighborhoods across the Charlotte area.

“No one believes it, that it could even happen,” says Pipers Glen resident Mario Morales. “When police are showing up, and they’re not leaving and they’re coming back.”

Morales and his neighbors lived the nightmare. A squatter next door. Refusing to leave. Bringing out the police. One commotion after another.

“You don’t think in the United States you get to take over a home that’s not yours and claim it’s yours,” says Morales. “You would think it’s easy enough just to evict them, and it’s certainly not.”

“Squatting is the generic term that is used when someone enters the property of someone else, usually without authorization, with an intent to remain on that property,” explains Charlotte attorney Mark Gott.

Squatting is epidemic in the city of Charlotte, across Mecklenburg County and the state of North Carolina. And it’s not just limited to one type of neighborhood. An $800,000 house in the exclusive Piper Glen neighborhood in Charlotte had a woman and her family squatting in it late last year. It took a concerted effort by neighbors and law enforcement to evict her.

Ninti el Bey and eight other people took up residence, without permission, in the 5,200 square foot home, intimidating neighbors and threatening armed resistance. El Bey was arrested multiple times. The squatters’ belongings were dragged outside by police. But those squatters would be back in the house that same night.

The drama played out over 7 to 8 months, with el Bey finally leaving last November, after continued pressure from the Pipers Glen Home Owners Association. The case is just one of many like it. Charlotte real estate attorney Mark Gott says there is a back log of eviction writs in the Mecklenburg County courts.

“It could be a bank if it’s post foreclosure,” says Gott. “Then the bank needs to follow up the procedure with the clerk of court to have an eviction entered. And then the sheriff actually comes and removes the person.”

“Everyone got involved and there was a community effort,” says Morales. “And I think that much pressure kept it going, and that’s what it takes.”

Gott says his firm dealt with at least a dozen squatting eviction cases in 2015, and there could be more than one hundred cases in Charlotte alone each year.