'At what point does it stop?': Standoff continues between homeowner, squatter on social assistance
LAKEWOOD, Calif. - The saga continues for a Lakewood family who have been unable to move into a home they purchased a year ago due to a woman who claims to be a legal tenant refuses to move out.
"At what point does it stop?"
Korri Olsen, her husband and the couple's 2-year-old son can only wonder. The Olsen family purchased the home in 2020 and paid out tens of thousands of dollars to alleged squatters who had been staying in the home. But the Olsen's remain in limbo over a dispute about one woman’s claim that she is a legal tenant that was also complicated by the current moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Squatter on social assistance takes advantage of eviction moratorium, leaving homeowners in limbo
The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is now representing the woman who is refusing to leave. They maintain that their client was a tenant at the house for years prior to the Olsen’s purchase who had an "oral lease agreement" with the previous owner. FOX 11 spoke to the seller of the property who claims the original owner had tried to get those who took up residence to leave in prior years but was unable to.
The case to evict the woman has been making its way through the courts. The attorney for the Olsen’s maintain that the statewide eviction order only applies to evictions that are related to those financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and her case does not fit into the moratorium on evictions.
The woman recently filed a motion to throw out the eviction case. A Norwalk judge recently declined to do so and now the woman is demanding a jury trial. There are currently no juries operating in Norwalk, due to COVID-19. The next hearing is set for August 27.
Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.
Inspectors have found mold and serious damage to the foundation from water in the house. One of them telling us he fears that someone walking on the kitchen floor may just fall through. City inspectors have been called to assess the damage to the foundation.
The Olsen’s maintain that they have attempted to make repairs but the woman demanded notice. Legal Aid tells FOX 11 "our client is a tenant; under state law" and "landlords are required to give at least 24 hours’ written notice of a proper purpose to enter."
The person living in the house, a 51-year-old woman who has no record of employment since the mid-1990s, is being represented by Legal Aid who operates on her behalf.
They released the following statement to FOX 11:
"For more than 90 years, our organization has sought to achieve equal justice for those living in poverty across Los Angeles – our most vulnerable community members who are unable to afford legal representation. That includes our client, who has been residing in this house and had been paying rent for years prior to the Olsens’ purchase. The Olsens bought the home at the height of the pandemic with the knowledge there was a tenant living inside. Our client has offered to pay rent every month since September 2020, and it has been refused. Since the Olsens have a tenant in their home, under state law, they are required to give at least 24 hours’ written notice of a proper purpose to enter. Performing construction is not a legal purpose to enter a property under the Civil Code. There has been no court finding that our client is not impacted by the coronavirus. We will continue to uphold our client’s rights as a tenant despite the challenges she now faces, similar to many tenants across Los Angeles County in the wake of the pandemic."
Meanwhile, the couple who bought the home say they have already spent thousands of dollars, settling with other people they paid to get out, plus legal fees, the house mortgage and inspections to keep up with the damage that they can’t get into to fix (since they need her permission, legally, to enter). The Olsen's, their two-year-old and their dog are staying in the bedroom of a relative, and fear they may not be able to hold on much longer, financially or emotionally.
Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.