Squatters take over vacant Torrance home

A four-bedroom home on the 22000 block in Torrance has cute Halloween decorations, and a quaint bench on the front porch, but there's a problem. The house is supposed to be vacant.

"I looked through the window and there were some boxes and a small surfboard inside," said Property Manager Rick Bernier. He said he picked up the phone to call the owner right away. "I contacted her and said did you rent this out already and she said no."

Bernier said one of the door knobs had been changed out too. He said a family in the home claimed they had the right to be there.

"Supposedly, they had a lease," he said. "They never would give it to us. They just waived some papers around and said they paid some guy $7,000 for the first month and security and found the house on Craigslist."

Bernier said his first move was to call police.

"They came out, and the older lady was the only one here, and she said her son never told them to leave, and at that point, 9 o'clock at night, we felt bad. We said, why don't you stay the night and leave first thing in the morning."

A move that attorney Leo Terrell said may cost them.

"That's the biggest mistake she made," Terrell said. "The moment [they] allowed them to stay there, [they] put the issue of whether or not they are tenants in dispute. She created a mistake for herself. She gave them something you never want to give, consent."

Terrell said the eviction process in California can take two or three months.

FOX 11 got a hold of the woman living in the home on Monday night. She claims she's a victim too.

"Yeah, we are. There are so many scammers out there."

The woman said she saw a posting for the home on Craigslist and when she moved in, a man took $7,000 in cash and handed her a contract, but when we asked for a copy of the contract the woman said she didn't have it.

"I don't know where that went to tell you the truth," she added.

Despite being a victim, she claimed she was willing to pay the home owner a six-month advance on the rent to make both sides happy. That's a fact the home owner refutes. It appears this one is heading to court, but in the meantime, both sides aren't budging.