Georgia homeowner’s rental property seized by squatters while he was caring for sick wife: ‘Very frustrating’

A Georgia man says his vacant rental property was seized by squatters while he was away caring for his sick wife, and getting them out under existing laws’ limitations is especially challenging.

“Basically, these people came in Friday, broke into my house and had a U-Haul move all their stuff in. It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating. I can’t even sleep,” real estate agent Paul Callins told Atlanta’s WSB-TV.

The incident unfolded in DeKalb County outside of Atlanta, where the squatting issue continues to hit residential areas hard in the Peach State.

GEORGIA REPUBLICANS TARGET ATLANTA SQUATTERS WITH HARD-HITTING BILL: ‘NO MORE FREE RIDES’

Georgia homeowner Paul Callins told Atlanta’s WSB-TV that his rental property has been taken over by squatters. (Fox News/Getty)

Callins told the outlet he had shelled out thousands of dollars to renovate the home he inherited from his father who died of cancer three years ago.

According to a report from last week, he speculates an ad he posted for the property online compelled the squatters to move in and take over.

They subsequently changed the locks and presented police with a false lease, he explained, sharing with WSB-TV’s Tom Regan that he speculates at least three squatters are living inside the home.

SQUATTER CRISIS HITS ATLANTA AS PROPERTY OWNERS SEE HOMES MORPH INTO DRUG AND PROSTIUTION DENS

The Atlanta city skyline

Vehicles travel along a highway in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. Atlanta residential communities continue to grapple with the out-of-control squatting crisis. (Alyssa Pointer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“She had it on her phone. She didn’t even have an actual [physical] lease,” he said of one.

When confronted by Regan as they entered the home, the squatters refused to answer questions.

Approximately 1,200 homes in the metro area have been taken over by squatters, according to the National Rental Home Council trade group, and existing state law leaves homeowners like Callins with limited options to take back what’s rightfully theirs.

Squatting is currently considered a civil matter in the Peach State, but state lawmakers are eyeing legislation to make the act a clear criminal offense.

STATE OF SQUATTING: AMERICA IS AT A ‘TURNING POINT,’ SAYS HANDYMAN WHO HELPS PEOPLE RECLAIM THEIR HOMES

“We have to do something about this,” Rep. Devan Seabaugh, a Republican co-sponsoring the Georgia Squatter Reform Act (HB 1017), told Fox News Digital last month.

“We’re dealing with criminals… These are people that know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re stealing other people’s most valuable capital, which is their home. I’ve heard from a lot of people. This has caused them to file bankruptcy. They’re mentally harmed by it. It’s a tough situation, and we have to do something. I don’t know how it took us this long to get here… but no more free rides,” he continued.

Though the bill is solely sponsored by Republicans, it has garnered overwhelming bipartisan support.

The bill unanimously passed the state House last week and now heads to the Senate. 

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