Homeowners facing foreclosure with no other alternative can often stay in their homes through bankruptcy. What is generally a move meant to protect a homeowner is being exploited by two illegal squatters who took over a Colorado family’s home.
Danya and Tony Donovan were unemployed and two months behind on their mortgage last summer when they packed up their belongings, shut up their home and left town in search of employment. They took their two young daughters to Indiana.
In March, Danya had a “premonition” that was something was wrong, and the Donovan family returned to find that their home was occupied by two illegal squatters, Veronica Fernandez-Beleta and Jose Rafael Leyva-Caraveo, who believed they had a right to be there because they had an affidavit which gave them “adverse possession” of the home.
Under Colorado law a squatter can take possession of a property if their claim is uncontested for 18 years.
Fernandez-Beleta and Leyva-Caraveo bought the deed from a man facing criminal charges for fraud, but refuse to leave the Donovan’s home and has taken extreme measures to stay in it.
The Donovans disputed the claims of the squatters and filed for an eviction, but Fernandez-Beleta and Leyva-Caraveo then declared bankruptcy which forbids the police from evicting them from the home.
Now the Donovans are out of money and don’t know how to get their home back. This is a complicated situation and the attorneys they have contacted aren’t sure how to deal with the issue.
Not all people use the bankruptcy courts to exploit legal loopholes like the squatters in this story. In general, people retain bankruptcy attorneys when they have exhausted all the possibilities and seeno other alternative to seeking relief from their debts.