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La Pine family squabbles with squatters


A La Pine family is working to get squatters to move off their land, but it’ll be a little more difficult than they expected.

About three months ago, Billy Dalton said he allowed a motor home he was working on to be moved to his mother’s property.

After being away for a few days, he came back to find the people who own the motor home living in it, and refusing to leave the property.

He said his plan was to put a house on that land for his mother to live in, but now they are unable to do that.

Then, Dalton was shocked to learn from law enforcement that, according to Oregon law, the people staying there were allowed to stay on the property because they had established residency.

“I was so excited about getting the house down there and getting things set up down there,” Dalton said Monday. “I mean, it’s just destroyed the whole thing. It’s disillusioning!”

Now, Dalton and his family are headed to court after serving the squatters written notice to vacate the land.

It’s a process that could take some time, and Dalton said he fears it could be a year before they are legally able to get these people off their property.

This type of situation has become much more common in Deschutes County, officials said.

When someone moves to a property and establishes residency there, it can be very hard to kick them out.

A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said the issue really boils down to the rules governing landlord-tenant disputes and evictions.

They said that residency can be established in many ways, through a lease, or even just a verbal agreement. Once that happens, it can be hard for a landlord to get someone off of their property.

“It’s not an uncommon call for us to get from a community member that they have given someone an opportunity to stay with them for a period of time, because they needed a short-term living arrangement until they could get a better situation,” sheriff’s Sgt. William Bailey said.

“But that usually involves residency being established, and that’s were you would have to go through the courts to get them removed from the property,” he said.

If you do need to remove someone from your property, that could be a long process.

Bailey said you first must give the tenant written notice to leave. If they refuse, then you have to go through the courts to get an eviction notice. If that is granted, authorities will serve notice and give the tenant a date to leave by.

Bailey added that if you are allowing someone to live on your property, you should first make sure you’re fully informed on landlord-tenant laws.

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