Seffner home attracting squatters

Code enforcement investigating complaints

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement is investigating neighborhood complaints that a vacant home in Seffner has become a magnet for squatters.

The house at 616 Parsons Reserve Court has been empty since its owner passed away two years ago, but residents on the street say they've seen numerous people moving into the home, which is headed to foreclosure.

"It concerns me because I have two small children," said Jodi Anderson, a resident along the street. "I don't want the type of neighbor who breaks into a vacant house in the middle of broad daylight."

Anderson said she's personally called the Sheriff's Office for help, and deputies have responded by asking the alleged squatters to leave. The problem, Anderson said, is they keep coming back.

"They're very persistent," Anderson said.

Frankie Lugo has lived in the cul-de-sac neighborhood since it was built 12 years ago and is frustrated that the house remains a target. Lugo said he witnessed people unloading a refrigerator, washer and dryer into the garage.

"You never know who could be in there. You never know what they could be doing in there," Lugo said.

ABC Action News contacted code enforcement, which dispatched an officer to the home. The agent inspected the house and left a sign on the front entrance. The officer said his office will contact the bank that's handling the home's foreclosure process so it can be better secured.

Sheriff's investigators said they typically can't arrest squatters unless the actual owner of the home files a complaint or presses charges. In this case, the house is in foreclosure limbo with no owner making complaints.

Deputies encourage other homeowners with vacant property to be diligent about making sure squatters aren't trying to move in, because once they establish residence, it's more difficult to kick them out.

That's where neighbors like Anderson had to make the effort themselves.

"It's brought our community together but almost for the wrong reasons because we're scared," Anderson said.  "We don't want criminals moving into our small community. It makes us nervous."

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