CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – Living in luxurious Coral Gables is not cheap.
Many homes are valued at more than a million dollars, and rent can typically run more than $5,000 a month.
But one family living in a spacious gated home on Sunset Drive just west of Cocoplum Circle is no longer paying a penny in rent.
“They feel that we’re squatters and we’re not,” Roberto Ramos said. He lives at the home with his wife and step son.
The question of whether squatters are living in the home was posed at Tuesday’s Coral Gables city commission meeting.
Neighbors said the current residents have cleaned the place up and even decorated for the holidays.
City officials said that doesn’t mean those people have the right to be there.
“The commission voted unanimously that we should take all the legal steps we can to see that if there are squatters there, they leave, that they be removed,” city attorney Craig Leen said.
Leen said property records show the house as vacant, so the city decided to investigate further when it realized the property was in fact, occupied.
Ramos told CBS 4 News he stopped paying rent about 6 months ago.
He believes he was the victim of fraud.
“The house is under foreclosure and it’s wrong for us to pay rent and the bank can come at any time and tell us we need to leave,” Ramos said.
Ramos says his step son, Jonathan Alvarez, signed a one-year lease to rent the house for $1,500 a month more than a year ago.
CBS4 News asked multiple times to see the lease, and Ramos said he was looking for it but never produced it for us.
City code enforcement also asked to see the lease, and stopped by Tuesday afternoon to speak to the family.
“No one came out to meet him,” Leen said. “The officer told me he called three or four times the number that he had but no one answered. He waited for a while. He’ll be back tomorrow.”
Ramos said he’s worked out an arrangement with Chase bank to maintain the property.
Tax records show Chase Home Finance paid $20,000 in taxes last year on the property assessed at more than a million dollars.
Leen said the city is looking in to who owns the property. He said there’s a discrepancy in the paperwork.
He said Ramos could face possible trespassing and code enforcement violations if he can’t produce a copy of the lease.