Holes in walls, rotten food everywhere, squatters trash home

Holes in walls, rotten food everywhere, squatters trash home

LONGVIEW, Wash. - Squatters tried to take over a Longview house but neighbors took charge in an attempt to keep their street safe and clean.

A broken window at the house on 24th Avenue appeared to be the entry point for the squatters.

Video that neighbor Michael Hardesty shot of the inside of the house shows numerous holes punched in the walls, cabinet doors ripped off, rotten food and junk on the floors scattered throughout the house.

He said there have been problem renters at the home for years. The most recent ones moved out just a couple of weeks ago. Then he noticed other people hanging around the house. He chased them off the property on Monday. They left the front door open so he took his camera inside to record the damage. Then he called Longview police.

"It's unbelievable. I've never seen anything like this in my life. It's the worst I've ever seen," said Hardesty. "I think we need to go after landlords who rent to people and don't do background checks, and we can fix the problem in our neighborhood here. That's how I feel."

Police have been to the house before to speak to renters.

Recently other neighbors noticed a lot of different people going in and out of the house.

"Mostly, I think it's just pretty much the economy," said Patrick Yaple. "The way it is, people (are) just having a hard time finding a place."

The landlords live in the Seattle area. Efforts to contact them Wednesday were unsuccessful.

There are several other vacant homes that are up for rent on the block but there are no problems in any of those.

One of the owners of another house was at the trashed house making regular repairs and getting it ready for new tenants. He said the best way to keep squatters away is for the owners of the property to stop by as often as they can. Neighbors can also help out by stopping by and mowing the lawn to make the place look like it is lived in.