In Boca Raton, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel
- As the number of renters increases and empty homes abound, some people are finding creative ways to get themselves into new homes — without paying for them.
If recent trends in South Florida are an indication, any vacant dwelling can become a target. Even occupied ones are sometimes not safe. And once people are in, it proves difficult to get them out.
That's the situation in a neighborhood west of Boca Raton. A 39-year-old woman convinced a real estate agent to hand her the keys to an empty house, Palm Beach County deputies say. But the woman, Tamica Jordan, has never paid a dime to anyone. The owners, who live in Alabama, want her out of the house, but because of legal protections for tenants, it seems no one can make her leave any time soon.
- Jordan's public records trail across California, Virginia and Florida in the past eight years shows a history of judgments filed against her for eviction. It is unclear whether she has since repaid these claims, but the records illustrate a nomadic cycle of moving in, paying no rent, getting evicted — and repeat.
She arrived at the Silver Woods Court cul-de-sac with two children and little else. She introduced herself to neighbors and told them she came from California and worked at a bank.
Jordan denied she is dodging rent, denied she had a pattern of evictions and denied that she has done anything to alarm her neighbors. She described herself as "a very peaceful person."
"I don't know how to respond to that," she said of the accusations she is a "serial squatter." "That all sounds crazy." Yet Jordan has at least eight eviction filings and default judgments going back eight years and totaling at least $26,032.
- On Feb. 28, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Caroscio confronted Jordan at the Silver Woods Court house, a report shows. The owner of the house, who lives in Alabama, called deputies to have her thrown out.
But because she had her children there, her belongings and the keys, there was nothing the deputy could do. Caroscio wrote "it was clear that there was a miscommunication" or even "some type of fraud."
Elaine Holland, a local Remax Realtor, was named in Caroscio's report, but in an interview she said another agent handled the listing. She would not detail Jordan's alleged strategy to obtain keys without any deposit or proof of employment. She said only that "somebody made a mistake" and that "there are lawyers working on this."