Woman claims HPD won't help get squatter out of home

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A woman claims police won't help her get a stranger out of a house in Fifth Ward that her family has owned since the early 1900s.

According to her, the person is also renting out the home.

"I want him arrested and I want him jailed for trespassing on my property," said Linda Lyons, who owns the home. "I can't understand why no one will listen."

Lyons is the registered homeowner for the property in the 2900 block of Kirk.

But a man she says she does not know is living there. His name is Robert Ramirez. When Eyewitness News was there on Wednesday, he gave Lyons' name and phone number and said he had permission from her to be there.

Despite the presence of "No Trespassing" signs and boarded windows, he's called the residence home.

"She told me a year ago," Ramirez said of time he claimed Lyons granted permission to him.

Therein lies the problem.

"I did not give you permission," Lyons said in a heated exchange with Ramirez. "This is my property. I want you off."

Lyons says the two times she's called Houston police to report the man on her property, he gives officers her name and phone number, just as he did with Eyewitness News.

It appears to be a civil matter, she says. Police suggested evicting him and securing the house better. In that move, police would be on their way. Lyons, though, is frustrated.

"Why do I have to be the one to prove it's my property?" she asked. "I pay the taxes and I want you to go."

After calls from Eyewitness News, police were back at the house at least twice. During the last visit, an officer issued the man citations. If he claims to be a tenant, then he's responsible, they say, for all the quality of life violations, from the trash in the front yard to the human feces inside. He was issued more than a dozen citations, which could cost him hundreds of dollars.

According to HPD, its Northeast Division Differential Response Team has now opened an investigation and officers want to work with Lyons to abate the dangerous conditions. She confirms they have contacted her and hopes they can help.

In the meantime, Lyons can only reflect on the home's history. The residence has been in her family for decades and she wants to keep it for years to come.

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