Squatter Arrested for Taking Over $600,000 Georgia Home After Owner Died, Changing Locks, Raking the Lawn, and Using ‘Fake Lease’

The incident comes as squatting has been making headlines in recent weeks — fueled in large part by TikTok — with some in the press even dubbing it an ‘epidemic.’

A squatter moved into this $600,000 house in Cobb County, Georgia, outside Atlanta, after its owner died. Zillow

A squatter in Georgia is in police custody for taking over a vacant home worth $600,000 after its owner passed away.

48-year-old George Kalb was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary and theft by conversion on Friday, nearly two weeks after vigilant neighbors first noticed suspicious activity at the property, including a UHaul truck in the driveway.

The house, located on a sleepy street in Powder Springs, in the Atlanta suburbs, has been vacant since its owner, a 59-year-old man named Michael Peterson, died last summer without leaving behind a will. 

“Evidence gathered during the investigation indicated that forced entry was made into the residence, signaling an intrusion beyond mere occupation,” a spokesman for the Cobb County Police, Aaron Wilson said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “The keys Kalb possessed were not standard issue but were instead linked to a doorknob he installed himself, suggesting unauthorized access.”

Squatter George Kalb has been charged with multiple offenses after living in the house for two weeks, using what the authorities say was a false lease. Cobb County Sheriff’s Office

According to the AJC, police were not able to immediately remove Mr. Kalb because he presented to them a lease that is now believed to have been fake.

During his stay in the home. Mr. Kalb entertained guests and was even seen raking the leaves.

The incident comes as squatting has been making headlines in recent weeks —  fueled in large part by TikTok — with some in the press even dubbing it an “epidemic,” as the Sun has reported. In March, Governor DeSantis signed legislation increasing penalties for illegal squatters.

“While other states are siding with the squatters, we are protecting property owners and punishing criminals looking to game the system,” Mr. DeSantis said in a statement. 

The home belonged to Michael Peterson who had unexpectedly died of a heart attack. West Cobb Funeral Home and Crematory

In Georgia, Governor Kemp last week signed anti-squatting legislation, writing on X that it is “nothing short of insane that there are some who are entering other people’s homes and claiming them as their own.” 

“It’s just outrageous, it really points to — as we see around the country — the lawlessness that’s gone on under the Biden administration,” he said in an interview on Fox News.

The new Georgia law will make an “incredible difference,” the deceased Cobb County homeowner’s daughter-in-law, Brittany Peterson, said. 

“Whereas before, you could come in and live somewhere for free and get a slap on the wrist … They’re going to have a lot harder time and a lot bigger consequences just due to the new law,” she said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted. 

“Hopefully making it a story means that it won’t happen to someone else,” Ms. Peterson said. “The bigger thing is being educated about this law and knowing how to use it.”

The New York Sun

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