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Sebastian police investigating alleged squatter situation at deceased woman's home

'We just want this situation resolved and for these people to be removed from this property,' Lee Gedeon says
Squatter in Sebastian home April 18 2024.png
Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 18, 2024

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — An alleged squatter situation that resulted in a fire has led a Sebastian neighborhood to complain to police and city leaders.

"Last year, a woman there passed away. She had a caretaker, who after she passed away, wouldn't leave the home," Candy, who lives in Sebastian and didn't want to share her last name, told WPTV.

Candy is talking about a home that is caddy corner to her home. She said since then, more people have moved in as well and moved a mobile home on property that recently caught fire.

"There was a man working in it, tearing it apart the other day and that could have started it but it sparked and it was burning overnight and it got quite big," Candy said.

Candy says she just wants to know what can be done to remove the squatter April 18 2024.png
Candy says she just wants to know what can be done to remove the squatter.

Several of Candy's neighbors captured the flames on camera. Candy told WPTV it was the final straw for the community.

"We just want this situation resolved and for these people to be removed from this property," Lee Gedeon, who lives across the street, said. "She refused to leave when the family came down to have a service and clear out the property. Evidently, she locked herself in the back bedroom and claimed that she established residency because she gets her mail here."

A family member confirmed that story to WPTV's Jessica Bruno over the phone and said their grandmother had a reverse mortgage through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and because it was all in her name, there is nothing they can do.

Lee Gedeon shares his frustration of dealing with the squatter situation April 18 2024.png
Lee Gedeon shares his frustration of dealing with the squatter situation.

"Unless somebody stops them, they can do anything," Paul Boudreaux, a property law professor at Stetson Law School, said.

Boudreaux told WPTV that the only person who can legally kick a squatter out of a residence is whoever owns the home.

"If the owner does nothing to evict them, other people who are not the owner don't really have the right to enforce other people's property rights," Boudreaux said.

Paul Boudreaux a property law professor at Stetson Law School April 18 2024
Paul Boudreaux, a property law professor at Stetson Law School, says only the homeowner can have a squatter removed.

Neighbors told WPTV they've reported the situation to Sebastian police. Sebastian's public information officer told WPTV that code enforcement is involved, the people living there have been cited and the issue will be brought before a judge in the coming weeks.

"It's not their house," Candy said.

While Candy and the others wait for the legal process to unfold, they're planning on complaining to city leaders as well at a city council meeting on Wednesday.

"We just want to find out what can be done," Candy said.

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