Protecting villains



Caption: On March 1, 2022, Netflix released a docuseries titled “The Worst Roommate Ever”. The series explores the terrifying stories of several people who have encountered traumatizing roommates. The series includes five episodes with a different case each episode, aside from the last two which contain parts one and two.

Lauren Lee, Reporter

The 2022 Netflix docuseries “Worst Roommate Ever” drags attention to what can happen when people allow others to live with them without previously knowing their true identity. Over the course of five episodes, the series covers four cases with illegally cashed checks, con-artists, and even murder. Most of the episodes start off with people searching for a roommate online to either keep them company or help out with rent, but what seems like a beneficial living situation gradually turns out into a nightmare.

The docuseries mentions the cases of Dorothea Puente, K.C. Joy, Youssef Khater, and Jameson Bachmann. The first three episodes of the docuseries discuss gruesome and violent stories, but the last two episodes draw attention to Bachmann, also known as the “serial squatter”, who received protection from squatters’ rights. Squatters’ rights refer to the legal rights which protect those who unlawfully occupy a piece of property, and with time, can come to own that property. All U.S. states protect squatters, but the rules vary in terms of how long someone can live on the property and the qualifications. For example, in Alabama squatters can take possession if they pay taxes or obtain a deed for 10 years, but in Alaska, a squatter can obtain the property with a deed if they lived on the property for seven years or paid taxes on it for 10 years.

Bachmann squatted in the homes of several women in Philadelphia and New York. He started off as a friendly roommate who agreed to help pay their rent. The problem started when Bachman tried to take control over the home and refused to pay the bills. He gradually turned violent when the ladies would complain about his duties. These ladies did everything in their power to evict Bachman, but in New York City, the government grants rights to squatters after only 30 days of occupying a property. This made the eviction process extremely difficult for the women who attempted to evict Bachman in New York City.

“I am concerned about the homeless. I feel like our country should do something to make sure people can make a living and secure a home to live in. However, I do not believe in squatters’ rights. Someone usually owns the land the individuals are squatting on,’’ sociology teacher Tina Guest said.

People visit sites like Craigslist and Facebook to find roommates to help with their needs. These apps contain sketchy users with convincing profiles, so nobody can truly know their identity. A squatter can trick someone into seeming like a reliable roommate until they need to pay rent and their true colors come out. Depending on what state a homeowner lives in, it could take years for the court to evict a squatter. In the meantime, that person deals with a roommate who lives there for free. 

Squatters’ rights neglect the property owners’ rights and protect the squatter. Removing squatters can also take a while because squatters can claim tenant rights when they sign a fraudulent lease agreement. The docuseries reveals the dark side of moving in with someone random, showing the way adverse possession can protect criminals rather than the victim.