Imagine that you save your whole life to buy a home. You also are serving your country in Afghanistan and ask a friend to watch over your house. You then discover that a squatter has moved into your own house, changed the locks and won’t leave. And to top it all off, the sheriff’s office cannot do anything about it.
This is exactly what happened to United States Soldier Michael Sharkey. His friend’s house-watching abilities are certainly below any standard. During the time that Mr. Sharkey was defending our country, strangers broke into his home, changed the locks and moved in. These squatters refuse to leave, claiming that there was a “verbal contract” with Sharkey’s friend who was supposed to be watching the house, providing that he could live there rent-free while he renovated the house. The friend claims that there was no such agreement. Surprising to some, the sheriff’s department in Pasco County, near Tampa, Florida, would not remove the squatters from the house after they said that there was a verbal agreement which allowed them to stay.
Sharkey is rightfully upset with the process, which will require him and his wife to retain an attorney to remove the squatters from their own home, but he is now required to go to court and obtain either an order of eviction or a writ of possession of their own home requiring the squatters to leave. The squatters, on the other hand, will be permitted the opportunity to prove whether a contract actually existed, which will likely be difficult given that the friend did not have the authority to provide a rent-free home to the squatters.
One must feel bad for the Sharkeys as there is risk that the squatters, who both have criminal records according to WFLA, will damage the home. Luckily for the Sharkeys, veterans advocacy groups have come to his support. They have found an attorney to handle the case pro bono and will be watching over the home.