Squatters Law Exhumed

(Montrose) Western Slope residents planning to leave town this summer are warned that a remote Homestead Era squatter’s rights ordinance is still on the state books. Until the regulation is amended, local law enforcement personnel have no choice but to follow the letter of the 1870s act.

“We will continue to implement procedures for the protection of the innocent,” said a local deputy sheriff who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We don’t like squatters any more than the next guy (does) but we have sworn to uphold the law.”

What this means is that an empty house is a potential haven for the dispossessed. Often this raggedy element will swoop down onto an entire subdivision legitimately occupying private property while the owners are absent. In some cases it can take 90 to 120 days to have the intruders legally removed.

“This is particularly rough on second home owners in resort areas like Telluride and Crested Butte where part-time residents commonly spend as little as two months a year in their sanitized castles, out in the woods, surrounded by state-of-the-art landscaping,” said county extraction agent, Suzie Compost. “Are these people expected to actually live in these trophy homes to prevent their seizure at the hands of roving mobs?”

Civilian patrols, alarm systems, guard dogs and even mine fields have not detoured the squatters who often don’t work or mow their lawns and thus have plenty of time for “impertinent occupations”. One home owner, attempting to ward off trespassers dug a large moat around his property only to be informed that he did not possess ample water rights to fill the thing. Another frustrated summer resident successfully chased a band of gypsies out the front door only to discover a contingent of homeless rabble occupying the kitchen and formal dining room.

“They tore down the curtains to make clothing for their naked offspring, cut down Nepalese saplings for firewood and devastated the liquor cabinet,” said victim Jack Spratt, heir to the Tampax fortune whose 73-room home sits at the top of Edith Bunker Mesa, near prestigious Pandora.

Finally ATF agents raided the place when underage smoking and the presence of unregistered handguns were documented. Spratt estimates the damage to his domicile be in the neighborhood of a tax deductible $3.3 million.

“We’re up against the wall until the legislature overturns this archaic statute,” said the quoted police officer. “Considering the danger maybe they will cancel their next recess and stay home.”

Meanwhile residents are encouraged to keep alert. Interlopers, according to local authorities, know exactly when the home owner is in Disneyville, Branson or on a cruise, and that’s when they pounce.

“If you must leave home for recreation limit outings to day trips or hire an armed house sitter,” continued the deputy. “Otherwise you may end up with some unwanted roommates.”    

  Gabby Haze

“I’ll have the organic chicken with a Pepsi.”  – actually overheard in a Ridgway eatery in July

         

Filed Under: Fractured Opinion

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