Harris County constable evicts squatters from vacant home, importance of wills highlighted

Officials in Southeast Houston are cracking down on squatters in vacant homes and a recent case highlights the importance of proper documentation for your loved one's property. 

Jennifer Hebert's mother, who owned a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home on Hinds Street in Southeast Houston, passed away shortly before Hurricane Harvey. Before getting a call from the Precinct 2 Constables' office in April, she thought her brother was staying on the property. Deputies told her squatters had occupied the home for several months, and even managed to turn the utilities on there.

"The Constable's office showed up at my door," said Hebert. "I didn't know anything about it."

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Council Member Flickinger's office tells FOX 26 the problem started in 2023 when homeless individuals inhabited the property. In the months that followed, the corner lot started overflowing with trash and became a haven for illegal dumping. Freeway Civic Club members informed the deputies, and it became a collaborative effort with Harris County officials and the Houston Police Department.

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Courtesy: Freeway Manor Civic Club

"Residents were saying it was drug use there, and there was gunfire from there, and people going in and out of there at night," said Constable Jerry Garcia. "We needed a complainant party for us to pursue charges. It was hard to find a last will from the previous property owner."

Garcia said it's a growing problem in his precinct and across the county - properties occupied by trespassers, and those properties missing proper documentation to issue a no-trespassing affidavit. They are currently working on five similar cases in the area. 

"If your Mom and Dad are getting older, and you need to get some papers drawn up, do that," said Garcia. "Nothing has been probated in most of the cases we have. Families should get something drawn up, so things won't become so difficult." The Constable says it took three months for deputies to evict the trespassers from Hinds Street. 

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Since April 10, the property has been vacated and cleaned. Hebert says she plans on selling the property. 

Council Member Flickinger tells Fox 26 he is working with the Department of Neighborhoods to provide Wills Clinics throughout the communities in District E. Dates and locations for those events have yet to be finalized.  If you have a home in your neighborhood occupied by squatters, please contact the District E office. 

For more information, please contact the District E office at (832) 393-3008 or via email at districte@houstontx.gov.