Thanks to our friends at The Obscure Store for pointing the way to a story in the Naples Daily News. Down in Ft. Myers, Fla., this past weekend 17 kids (10 of which were underage) were busted at a house party. It happens, sure, but the problem was -- on top of the whole underage drinking thing -- is that the house party was thrown at house owned by Wells Fargo Bank.
It seems one upside of the housing bust is the ample foreclosed homes on the market that provide great places to throw ragers for bored teens. The house had been foreclosed on and had been empty for some time.
Apparently berserk on booze and hormones, the teens trashed the place: spraying graffiti on the walls, kicking in windows, and punching holes in the drywall. All told, the kids did around $75,000 worth of damage to the house.
This is nothing new; it's a longstanding rite of passage for juvenile delinquents everywhere to get drunk in an abandoned structure and set it on fire on the way out. And abandoned isn't necessarily the operative word. Back in 2001, a group of young squatters took over the London home of a wealthy British economist for 10 days. He still lived there, he just hadn't been home when they took over the place. By the time the squat (which was actually fairly organized, with squatters having designated chores) ended, the estimated damage to the pad was around 1.5 million pounds sterling.
What the kids in the UK knew that the Florida kids didn't is that had they stuck around quietly for a few days before throwing their party, they would have actually acquired some legal claim to the property. Thanks to squatters' rights. My question is, with as many foreclosed homes on the market, should tenants rights given to squatters be suspended until the housing market can get back on its feet? Or should we use the empty units to temporarily house the homeless (drunken teens ruining it for everybody notwithstanding)?
We've got a lot more info on stuff from this post here at HSW: