Don and Peggy Bain are 81 years old.
They’re retired, as you might guess.
They have a nice little house is Spokane, Washington, and Don built a shop out back. Like me, he wanted a place to putter around, fixing up old cars and making bird houses. His shop has room for a couple of cars, a work area, and a small apartment.
Don and Peggy allowed Peggy’s adult son, Skippy Ray Davis, to stay in the apartment. Skippy had some issues, drugs among other things – but what are you going to do, right? Family and all that.
Skippy allowed a woman named Susan Pierce to move in, without the Bains’ permission and against their express wishes and the conditions of his residency. Then Skippy allowed a bunch of other, rather unsavory characters to move in. They trashed the place, tore up the Bains’ yard, and came and went at all hours of the day and night. As you might imagine, the Bains were unhappy.
They asked Skippy to leave, and take his shitbag friends with him. There was an altercation. The police came. It was discovered that Skippy had an outstanding warrant for failing to pay his drug fines. The police carted his ass off to the Geiger Correction Center on April Fool’s Day.
But the joke, it seems, wasn’t on Skippy, but rather on Don and Peggy Bain.
See, Susan Pierce and the rest of the rotating band of characters who had taken up residence in Don Bain’s garage didn’t leave. Don called the police to have them removed.
Instead, the police sided with the squatters.
Pierce never had the Bains’ permission to move in, never signed any kind of legal document such as a lease or rental agreement, has never paid rent or utilities or for the damage she has done to the Bains’ property – but according to the Spokane Valley Police Department, she is a legal resident and can’t be evicted without a court order.
The cops were very careful to explain this to her, repeatedly.
Lt. Stephen Jones says that while he sympathizes with the Bains, the law protects people from being thrown out on street without good reason, and Pierce can’t be evicted without a judge’s say-so. Now, dig this, because Pierce is, according to the police, a de facto resident of the property in question, she can invite others in, and there have been at least three others rotating through the Bains’ garage on a regular basis. All of which now have a claim on the Bains guest apartment.
When Pierce disappeared for several days, Don changed the locks. When Pierce returned, she called the police, who then made the Bains open the door and give Pierce a new set of keys. When Pierce and the other squatters lost the keys, police directed them to break a window so they could get into the shop – and stood by while they did so.
The Bains basically have no rights whatsoever. They must continue to make payments, they must continue to keep the lights and heat on, and they must respect the rights of their squatter tenets – including privacy. Piece even went so far as to draw up a hand lettered sign with her name and an address (the wrong one, actually, but still) and hang it on Don Bain’s fence.
The Bains have retained a lawyer and filed for eviction. A judge will have to review the case and grant the eviction if he is so inclined. Then the squatters will have 30 days to vacate. Then and only then can the Bains have police escort these parasites from their property.
Allow me to be blunt: What kind of fucked up nonsense is this?
No, seriously, what perversion of the law is this? How is it that the rights of drug addled vagrants trump the rights of tax-paying, stand up citizens?
I don’t often side with the right-wing goofs and their anti-liberal screed, but this is a case of liberalism gone batshit insane. I could, maybe, see how Skippy Ray might have a case – since the Bains gave him permission to move in. But Skippy is busy playing leap frog in the prison shower at the moment and Susan Pierce is an uninvited trespasser – a squatter that has apparently let in other squatters. They’ve trashed the Bains’ property, used utilities, denied Don Bain the use of his own shop, and turned the Bains’ life into a nightmare – where are the Bains’ rights in all of this? Who makes good for them? Will the state pay the Bains for their continued loss while the court settles this issue (and bear in mind that the court may in fact decide that Susan Pierce doesn’t have to leave, that’s unlikely, but under the law it’s possible, and she can appeal, and continue to draw this out in the meantime).
The Tenet/Landlord laws were put in place to protect the rights of property owners and to protect legal tenets from the capricious and arbitrary whim of their landlords. The laws were not put into place to deny property owners their Constitutional rights or to protect deadbeats, vandals, and criminals. These squatters are not legal residents. They are uninvited trespassers - and nothing more.
Here’s what should be done: Pierce and the other squatters should be removed forthwith from the Bains’ property – they don’t need to be evicted onto the street, they can be dropped off at the nearest homeless shelter. They should be charged for any and all damages and a reasonable amount of rent for the time they’ve lived there – if they are unable or unwilling to pay, that amount can be added to Skippy’s jail time as an abject lesson in responsibility since he seems to be lacking in that department. Let him work it off. But, the Police Department should be required to cough up the cost of that broken window – since they somehow seem to have forgotten that one of their primary functions is to protect the property of citizens. Which is a bit odd, since “Serve and Protect” is printed on the side of their cars in great big letters.
I’ve heard and seen a lot of ridiculous nonsense – but this is right up there with the most idiotic.