The negative happenings in the real estate industry in South Florida never ceases to amaze me. It appears that scammers, grifters, con artists, whatever you want to call them, are gaining access to vacant homes, usually those in financial trouble, renting them to unsuspecting tenants, and pocketing the money.
Oh, but it gets better. The associations of these homes are aware of the fact, yet still continue to collect dues and not notify the actual owner! In certain instances these tenants are suing to stay in the property as well and the law is actually on their side. In this case the owner has to actually evict them because of squatters rights.
You really have to have a gifted mind to come up with a con like this. Imagine if all the grifters out there used their minds for all the right reasons instead of all the wrong what a wonderful place this might be. My advice is twofold; Owners of vacant property need to keep a constant eye on their homes. Second, tenants should always due their homework to make sure who is the legitimate owner of the property much like they do when investigating whether or not the owner is paying their mortgage.
I had a similar situation happen to me in South Carolina years ago. I was partners in a duplex in which my side was vacant and the other rented by my partner. I now lived in Florida and made it a point to check up on the property whenever in town and to my surprise when I got there on this particular occasion there was a whole family of squatters living in the house, with their furnishings. Of course, there was no power or water, but they didn't care. So, I threw them out on the spot and put the place up for sale immdiately. So, it does happen everywhere. Only difference here was they just broke in!