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Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Issues Warning On Property Squatters

Cathelene "Tina" Robinson, clerk of Fulton County Superior Court, sees increase in squatters claiming to "own" vacant properties.

Back in April, Atlanta police arrested a pair of squatters who claimed to own three homes in Boulevard Heights.

The two, Keylen Joseph DeSantos and Ayahme K. Ford, were charged with burglary, filing false statements and forgery.

On Monday, Cathelene “Tina” Robinson clerk of the Fulton County Superior Court, said more such squatting scenarios are taking place.

The squatters file affidavits with the courts claiming they have rights to vacant properties.

At a meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit-M — which includes Old Fourth Ward, Sweet Auburn, Downtown and Castleberry Hill — she urged residents to get to know the owners of vacant properties in their neighborhoods and keep an eye out for suspicious activities.

"Pay attention in the neighborhoods where you have vacant properties," Robinson said. "Sometimes people are just squatting on that property, filing paperwork in our office and that affidavit is a legal document.

"It's becoming a major problem in our communities."

Owners of vacant single-family residential properties in Atlanta's city limits should be registering their homes with code enforcement officials anyway.

The Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance in December 2011 amending the City of Atlanta’s housing code to require the registration of single-family residential vacant properties that have been unoccupied for 30 days or more.

That ordinance mandates that:

  • Any owner of a non-rental residential property must identify contact information once that property has been vacant for 30 days.
  • Owners who fail to comply with the registration will be in violation of city code.
  • Online registration can be found here and registration in person can be done through the Office of Code Enforcement (55 Trinity Avenue, 3rd Floor).

Registration includes an annual registration fee of $100, which increases to $250 if the structure has an outstanding code violation after one year.

For more information on Atlanta vacant property registration process contact the Office of Code Compliance at 404-330-6190.

Steve DeCaprio July 03, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Why is a clerk picking sides in property disputes? Most states have laws protecting people who occupy abandoned properties. It's called adverse possession. When property falls into disuse it has always been the case that it is preferable for someone to put it back to some form of beneficial use. That is why squatter's rights have been written into our laws since before the U.S. revolution. If she's a clerk she should just file the papers which she admits "that affidavit is a legal document." I'm open to some form of clarification, but this seems like someone overstepping her administrative authority.

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