This Isn’t The Wild And Wooly West, You Know

Well, it is, but there are still a few rules
BY: DICK FITZWELL

Last week a Gringo took back ownership of a hotel he sold five years ago. The police eviction of the million dollar 20 room hotel followed a lengthy court battle stretching through several appeals.

The Mexican Revolution of 1910, which resulted in the Constitution of 1917, was largely fought over land distribution. (That and the Mexicans were mightily pissed off at their president). One of the new rules in the new constitution gave citizens wide latitude in property rights. This part of the Constitution has opened the door for the national sport of squatting, second only to the national sport of soccer.

Although the law was meant to insure the rights of ordinary citizens when they are in conflict with the rights of rich landowners, the law has often been misused and abused by any citizen who wants to take over someone else’s property. This is why you see so much barb wire fences, as people who have bought and paid for land try to fend off “invaders” as Mexicans call squatters. The legal process of eviction is complex because squatters have an amazing array of rights. If someone moves onto a property and are not challenged by the owner, the squatters have increasing rights to it the longer they are there.

This is why you see barb wire around what appears to be abandoned land. No land is abandoned until the taxes are not paid for several years, it just might not be currently in use. But even barb wire is not enough to insure rights to your property, you need to get those squatters off there right now, before any rights kick in. Squatting is also a problem in rental units. It’s not unusual for people to simply stop paying rent and continue to live there, and it takes a huge expensive effort to get them out.

This is why it has taken Bob Jankovics five years and about $50,000 in legal fees to take back his 20 room hotel he built and sold in the Pedregal. After paying $300,000 down, Roy Rajacic, who is from Long Island New York, never made another payment. Meanwhile, he was renting out the rooms and raking in about $10,000 a month. Jankovics figures Rajacic made about $600,000 on his original investment of $300,000, and he believes that was Rajacic’s plan from the beginning.

Rajacic’s legal appeals were finally exhausted last week and a court officer, escorted by four policemen, accompanied Jankovics to the property in the lower Pedregal. The court officer demanded the keys from the owner’s representative, who was described by Jankovics as the hotel maid. She ran the place, he said, collecting rents and cleaning it. She claimed she would meet with another of the squatter’s representatives once a week on a street corner and turn the money over to that woman. Meanwhile, to the best of Jankovic’s knowledge, the squatter never came to Mexico.

The 20 rooms were occupied, mostly by Gringos who saw it on vacation rental websites. The renters were not immediately tossed out on their fanny, but they did immediately suffer a loss of water and propane to heat that water. Under those circumstances, they all departed within days. They didn’t need to, they could have squatted, too, which would have required another huge court battle, but they didn’t.

The property was run down, and it required three dump runs just to haul off the broken down furniture and equipment that was being stored onsite. Of course there are five years of taxes to catch up on, also, and the rooms need to be cleaned and rented again.

Jankovics plans on selling it again, this time for cash only, don’t even ask to make payments. He’s asking for $950,000 for the property that has a condo regime in place. Condo regime means it can be sold as 20 individual condos, which he will let go for $100,000 each, for a tidy profit of $1 million if all are sold for that price. It’s only about six years old, as he is the original builder of the property which has a swimming pool, restaurant facilities, and a great view of the bay. Jankovics just wants to be rid of it, so he’s selling it as the total package.