Miami homeowner suing to evict couple living on her front porch, upset neighbors say they’ve been there for years

(WSVN) - This next story is definitely not your typical landlord tenant dispute. A South Florida woman is trying to evict a couple who has made the front yard of her home their living room. The Nightteam’s Karen Hensel has tonight’s special assignment report: Parked on the Porch.

Many of the homes in Miami’s historic Shenandoah neighborhood still have that old Florida feel, but what’s happening at one home in particular has neighbors on this street floored.

Neighbor: “This is something we’ve been living with for many years, and we’ve had enough.”

Neighbor (in cellphone video): “Living on the front lawn of a residential home.”

The neighbors are so concerned about the situation, they do not want to show their faces, but they want something done.

Neighbor: “You find them laying down in the yard. You don’t know if they’re alive, if they’re dead.”

After a neighbor first contacted us, we went to check out the living conditions.

From the street — on multiple days — our camera captured the couple making themselves at home on someone else’s front lawn.

We saw the woman eat, talk on her cellphone, feed cats, paint and defecate behind plants next to the home.

Neighbor: “They’re exposing themselves when they urinate and defecate outside in the front yard.”

The man pushes a shopping cart up and down the sidewalk bringing supplies.

We spotted him on the property waking up, snacking and cleaning up the yard.

We also noticed a school bus stop right in front of the home.

Neighbor: “Since COVID, that area, and it will be a year, that area has not been cleaned.”

By now, you’re probably wondering about the actual homeowner.

We saw her, too, but did not see her interact with the people in her yard.

Karen Hensel: “There’s two sides to this story somewhere.”

Neighbor: “Yeah.”

Karen Hensel: “And the front yard is not necessarily the whole story.”

Neighbor: “No, no.”

It turns out the homeowner and the woman living outside are sisters. This whole ordeal started years ago with the couple living in the backyard. In 2017, the homeowner sued and evicted them, but they came back. This time, moving to the front yard.

Neighbor: “It’s a major health issue.”

The homeowner is once again suing to evict the couple, this time from her front porch.

According to court records, after being “evicted some months ago from a motel,” the homeowner allowed them to “put their personal belongings” on the porch on a “temporary basis.” Instead, they started “squatting.”

The documents state the homeowner has “never collected rent” and has repeatedly asked them to leave.

Neighbor: “The police always says to us that they haven’t committed a crime.”

And we discovered the woman living in the front yard is a former attorney disbarred 13 years ago.

In this handwritten court filing, the couple asked a judge to dismiss the case because of the “temporary halt in evictions” due to COVID.

The eviction case — filed in September — is still pending.

Meanwhile, neighbors say they have repeatedly asked the City of Miami to step in.

Neighbor: “There is anger, there is frustration, a lot of frustration with city officials.”

Email correspondence shows City of Miami officials have been aware of this problem for years.

In a December email, a member of Mayor Francis Suarez’s staff called it a “quality of life” and “life safety issue.”

Neighbor: “If this was your street, if this was your neighbors, would they still be out there? If you were a city official? I don’t think so. I think the answer is absolutely not.”

Karen Hensel: “And what would you like to see happen?”

Neighbor: “I’d like to see them get the right treatment, and I’d like to see us, the neighbors, get back to normalcy.”

But for now, it remains anything but normal.

Neighbor: “There’s been times where she just snaps, and she runs out in the street yelling or screaming or taking video or photos.”

A neighbor recorded this from their own yard.

Woman (in cellphone video): “Stay away from me. Stay away from me. Stay the [expletive] away from me.”

When we tried to talk with the woman…

Woman: “Please get away from me.”

Karen Hensel: “My name is Karen. I’m with WSVN 7News.”

She wasn’t interested.

Karen Hensel: “I’m going to leave my card for you.”

Woman: “Get off my property.”

Karen Hensel: “This is not your property.”

Woman: “Do not litter on my sidewalk.”

Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes says the couple has refused help, including shelter, but they will continue to look for a solution.

The attorney for the homeowner declined to comment.

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