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New owners for Parkrose squatter house


Parkrose resident Ron Van Cleave is happy squatters occupying the house across the street from his-pictured behind him-are finally being evicted after the house sold in May. For months, neighbors attempted to get the bank that owned the property to foreclose. New owners take occupancy this month, ending neighbors' yearlong nightmare.
Mid-county Memo photo/Tim Curran
Time is running out for the squatters occupying a house at 3728 N.E. 115th Ave. in Parkrose.

On July 10, the house will officially be the property of new owners, according to Memo sources. Once under new ownership, the owners can legally give the police the right to evict the squatters, who have occupied the house for the past year. “This sale will start the clock ticking, so they [the new owners] can come in with a police escort and evict these people,” said Ron Van Cleave, a concerned neighbor of the Parkrose squatter house.

Van Cleave told the Memo that Sinclair Doggett-the father of the home's deceased former owner Steven Doggett- visited him recently. Sinclair Doggett confirmed the house was sold, telling Van Cleave he had signed over legal rights to the property.

Wells Fargo, which had previously held the mortgage on 3728 N.E. 115th Ave., also confirmed the squatter house was sold. According to Wells Fargo spokesperson Tom Unger, the house was sold in a short sale on May 9 of this year. Citing confidentiality concerns, Unger would not disclose the name of the new owners. “I'm happy that it [the squatter house] sold because the owners can now improve it, and not only for themselves, but also for the entire community,” said Unger.

The squatter house saga began in July 2013 when three individuals moved into the house, according to reports from neighbors and police. Since then, police have received multiple complaints about illegal activities, including drug sales, happening at the house.

City officials at the Bureau of Development Services have also received complaints about garbage piling up on the property. As the Memo reported in February, the city hired a contractor to clean up the garbage in January of this year.

To date, no illegal activities have been officially tied to the squatter house's current occupants. In addition, no arrests of the house's current occupants have been made.

However, as the Memo reported in December, the Multnomah County Sherriff's Department confirmed the house is associated with the arrest of multiple felon John Joseph Skaggs. He is currently serving time for selling and possessing heroin. His association with the house's current occupants is unknown.

Van Cleave says the house's suspicious activities have been troubling for him and other neighborhood homeowners. He calls the sale encouraging.

Why the squatters have managed to stay in the house for so long has to do with the house's recent legal status.

The home's previous owner was Steven Doggett. He died in September 2011. Following his death, Doggett's old home went into a state of “legal limbo,” according to Portland Police Officer and Parkrose Neighborhood Liaison Joshua Buller.

After their son's death, Buller told the Memo that Doggett's parents, Sinclair and Joan Doggett, became the house's rightful owners. However, the Doggetts told Buller they forfeited their rights to their son's house, in effect, handing over the keys to Wells Fargo, which held the mortgage on the house.

Wells Fargo didn't move to foreclosure on the property until January 2014, leaving the house vacant for years.

Sinclair and Joan Doggett could not be reached for a comment.

Van Cleave says while he's happy the property has finally sold, he wishes Wells Fargo would have moved faster to start the foreclosure process. It wasn't until the Memo's story in December of last year that Wells Fargo started listening to neighbors' concerns, says Van Cleave. Unger disputes this claim. “As far as I know, we didn't do anything wrong,” said Unger. Doggett's death complicated things and probably slowed things down, Unger said. “Until the property goes into a foreclosure sale, it's not bank-owned, so we're limited in our ability to do anything, and that's the problem …We're kind of caught in the middle. And it's a shame the community had to suffer through this,” Unger said.

The house's legal limbo also tied the hands of the police. Without a legal owner's consent, police cannot move to evict. “If we don't have a person in charge that can give us lawful authority, we would be essentially trespassing onto that property,” Buller told the Memo in December.

In an interview for this story, Buller said he had not heard about the house selling but called the development “really good news.” Buller says it's now up to the new owners to give the police the legal authority to move forward on the eviction process. “As soon as they want to do it, we can come out and help. It's really up between them,” Buller said.
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