SPOKANE, Wash. -A home was completely trashed after the owner says squatters took over.
“They've been destroying the house,” says Gene Thomsen. “They've ripped walls apart, floors, everywhere.”
Everywhere you look, there’s some form of garbage. One room has garbage piled almost to the ceiling. Gene has also been finding needles all over his house.
Gene says about a year ago, his stepson moved into the house without his permission. Then, his stepson’s friends moved in too.
“For a long time I couldn't evict anybody. As long as they were here as they set themselves up as receiving mail here,” he says.
That’s because before the only recourse for homeowners was one course of action through the civil eviction process to remove squatters. And these squatters in Gene’s case had established residency at his home and continued to trash it.
But then, a law was passed this summer that would give law enforcement authority to remove squatters from private property, if the property owner filed a declaration.
The Gonzaga law clinic actually took on Gene’s case, and it worked. Police kicked the squatters out.
“Elated, it was great. Finally was getting something done and being able to get back to my house,” Gene says.
But Gene still has a long road of clean up ahead of him. Gene just hopes that his story can help someone else in the same situation.
“If there's problems get resources to get it moving get it going before it escalates to this point,” he says.