(WSVN) - With rents soaring, an increasing number of people are finding an empty house, breaking the locks and moving in. It can takes months in civil court to evict somebody, but Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser found a little-known state law to help one South Florida man.

As the detective knocked, as the locksmith drilled through the door, Sam could only watch.

Sam Druin: “I was I was thinking the worst, you know, concrete down the pipes.”

Let’s move back to last week. Sam arrived at his investment property, where he was confronted by a woman who had broken the locks on his doors and moved in.

Sam Druin: “I get jumped by two teenage boys and this woman screaming at the top of her lungs.”

The woman, named Shaneria Josey, pulled a lease out of her pocket and told police she had rented the house from a woman she couldn’t contact.

Sam Druin: “How many people run around with the lease of their house in their pockets? Some of it was printed, signed by a Miss Ramos or something, not even my name.”

The North Miami Police told Sam they couldn’t determine if the lease was fake, and Sam would have to sue Josey in small claims court.

Police said she could stay in the house. Sam had to leave.

Sam Druin: “And she starts screaming and yelling, ‘You’re not the owner. This is my house. Leave.'”

Sam was stunned.

Sam Druin: “My stomach dropped.”

It got worse. As we started digging, we discovered Shaneria Josey had been through the eviction process nine times.

Sam and I both spoke to one landlord who went the long civil route to evict Josey.

Sam Druin: “And then he said, on her way out, she dumped concrete down his pipes, and he said that the cost to him was over $100,000.”

But Howard said the civil route was not the only route.

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “There’s a little-known state statute that allows the police to remove the squatters immediately if the owner signs an affidavit swearing that the occupant is not a renter and has no legal right to be there.”

I contacted Shaneria Josey. She didn’t want to talk to me but left a message telling me to stay off the property.

Shaneria Josey: “I live a private conservative life on Christ. I rented this property out from someone, and I’d appreciate it if you all do not trespass back on the property. Thank you.”

But after Sam signed the affidavit, Miami-Dade Police would give Josey the surprise … as they came to toss her out.

When police opened the door, only Josey’s dogs were inside. A detective called her and told her to come get her property out of Sam’s house.

She showed up, again waving a so-called lease. Police didn’t buy her story.

And then Josey turned her anger at Sam.

Sam Druin: “And the officers came. ‘Sir, you’re going to have to step away, stay outside. We know this is your house, but we don’t want a confrontation.'”

The Organized Crime unit also asked us to hide their faces and stay back to avoid the camera irritating Josey.

She first brought out her dogs, then called a friend with a pickup truck. Police were inside watching as she removed her furniture.

When they drove off, Sam and I were allowed back to go back into his house.

Sam Druin: “I’m praying, ‘please, please, nothing, no concrete toilet pipes, no damage in the appliances.'”

But there was damage.

Sam Druin: “Unbelievable. Every single baseboard, look at this, everywhere.”

In just a few days, the baseboards were ripped, probably by the dogs. All the smoke detectors were pulled out. The back door was destroyed, and Sam had to board it up.

And then we looked into a bathroom.

Sam Druin: “Oh, no. Oh, my God. I don’t really want to go in there.”

The shower looks disgusting. If you flush the toilet, water bubbles up in the shower. Turns out grease was poured down the drain.

Sam Druin: “I’m nervous about that. Yeah, that worries me more than this baseboard.”

A plumber cleared the line, reminding Sam if he had gone the slow civil route instead of the state quick law to remove people, he would have been in bad shape.

Sam Druin: “I think the surprise – they were not ready for this, and I think that saved me. If I would have gone through the system civilly, that would have given them plenty of time to do whatever they wanted to before they were made to leave.”

Police left a “no trespassing” sign on the window. If the woman returns, she’ll be arrested.

Sam Druin: “And I’m very blessed to have found you guys, you know, Help Me Howard. You guys have been exceptional. I mean, I would not be standing here today if not for you guys.”

Sam can now walk into the house. His house.

Glad things worked out for you, Sam.

The law that Sam used to get rid of those people doesn’t work in normal landlord-tenant evictions. It’s designed to get rid of squatters, or to remove unwanted house guests who won’t leave. If you have those problems, call the police, show them that state law. It’s at the end of this story.

Ready to remove a problem? The civil route not working? Lock in with us to see if we have the key to open your door to a solution.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Way To Remove Unlawful Transient

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Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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