and Video Courtesy of Channel 10 News Tampa
July 25, 2015
A military family returns to their vacant
Hillsborough County home to discover squatters had moved in, and the HOA
has been cashing in on it.
|"We had no idea someone was living in
our home and paying our HOA rent," says Doug Tupper.
A viewer reached out to 10 News trying to get help for this
family. It's a new twist to the ongoing squatter problem
that's plaguing many local neighborhoods. This time it hit a
military family and their home on Camden Woods Drive in
property management company found a way to force the
squatters to pay up without the homeowner ever knowing.
The Tupper family believes squatters may have broken in through the
garage, then changed the locks, and the surprises just kept coming for
|"This is the mess we walked into
here," says Doug Tupper.
Doug and Lori Tupper shot video as they found the filth
inside their home. The family of six deployed overseas with
the Air Force in 2011, leaving the home vacant, because of
issues with Chinese drywall. The family insists the house is
unsafe, even for these squatters.
"Unfortunately they had a lot of children
here, too, so they were living in this condition and living
and breathing infected Chinese drywall," says Doug Tupper.
Come to find out, the homeowners association's property manager, Sentry,
knew that the squatters had moved in. They provided the company with a
"For the HOA to never let anybody know, really should be criminal," Doug
A receipt shows the HOA has been charging the squatters $1,000 a month
"We get no communication from the HOA that someone is living in the
house, and they're collecting rent on the house? That's just another
shock to the system," says Tupper.
And it's legal under Florida's Demand for Rent law, because the Tupper's
are behind on their HOA dues.
Sentry's president tells me once the $6,000 dollars in back dues and
legal fees are paid up, the money would have been forwarded to the
"It doesn't authorize them to move someone into the house. It doesn't
authorize them to evict someone either. It just allows them to approach
them and demand the rent," says Detective Larry McKinnon with the
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The Tuppers had deputies trespass the woman and kids from the home. The
sheriff's office is now investigating how they got into the home in the
first place. McKinnon says its important for homeowners to have someone,
like a neighbor, watching a house while it's vacant.