A $500,000 Hawaiian home was built on the wrong lot overrun by squatters — with the developer suing the owner

US News


A Hawaii property owner was baffled when a half-million-dollar home was accidentally built on her lot — and the developer was slapped with a slap in the face. Ha With a lawsuit as the vacant home is overrun by squatters.

“You've already made a mistake, and then you're building on my land without my permission. And then now you're suing me for it,” Annalyn “Ann” Reynolds told The Post of the nightmare ordeal.

“I was so mad. I was so angry that day…and that's a really big mistake.”

A real estate development company has filed a lawsuit against Hawaii property owner Annalyn “Ann” Reynolds after a house was mistakenly built on her lot. Hawaii News Now
The $500,000 home is currently filled with settlers. Hawaii News Now

Now, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Hawaii's fastest-growing development area is rampant with squatters as Reynolds and the developers remain locked in a legal battle.

The incredible story began in 2018 when Reynolds purchased a one-acre parcel of land at Hawaiian Paradise Park in Puna for just $22,500 at a county tax auction.

She planned to move from California to be with her daughter and dreamed of using her new land — located just a mile from stunning ocean views — to host her Meditative healing retreats for women.

Not only was the parcel in the perfect location, but Reynolds felt a spiritual connection to it.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was built in Hawaii's fastest growing development area. Hawaii News Now

“I checked all the parameters — the north-south, east-west coordinates — and the way the plot of land is positioned relative to sunrise and sunset, and how it relates to the stars and my zodiac sign and my family's zodiac sign. And it all aligned. So I was very interested in this,” Reynolds said. “The property.”

“I have a deep respect for the land. We reached out to the land and paid our respects and she said yes to us.”

But since then, the drug has only caused headaches.

Like the rest of the country, Reynolds found her plans halted by the pandemic and decided to wait in the Golden State until the time was right to return to the island.

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Reynolds purchased the one-acre parcel in 2018. Hawaii News Now

During that period, a real estate developer bulldozed the once-vegetated plot of land into nothing, built a concrete house and sold it to a buyer in just six months — all without Reynolds' knowledge.

She finally learned of the mistake in June of last year, when a real estate broker called her with the bad news that he had sold the house that had been mistakenly built on her property for $500,000.

A construction crew has been hired by developer Keaau Development Partnership, LLC to build about a dozen homes on properties purchased by developers in the subdivision. Hawaii News Now reported.

An attorney for PJ's Construction told the outlet that developers do not want to hire land surveyors, as parcels of land are defined by telephone poles.

The situation quickly became a finger-pointing game, with Reynolds at the center wondering how developers, builders, real estate brokers or the local building department had not intervened before it was too late.

She hired a negotiator to get her land back, shortly before Keaau Development Partnership sued her and everyone involved in the construction of the house.

Reynolds found feces all over the house when she visited in February. Hawaii News Now

“I did my due diligence even if I was the one hurt in this fiasco and then they sued me. I feel like a criminal. What did I do to deserve this? It was very hurtful,” she said.

“I'm being sued for unjust enrichment if the property stays on my land. It says in the lawsuit that I will benefit from your mistake. Well, excuse me, I never wanted that.”

Developers initially tried to sell her home at a discount or trade it for a neighboring lot, but she refused both — and says she wants her property restored to what it was like before it was destroyed.

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Due to the legal lockout, the house is empty and filled with settlers.

Reynolds visited the property in February to find it littered with feces.

“There was a pipe on the floor. In the hallway bathroom. And on the toilet seat,” she recalls, adding that all the doors were locked. “I was shocked.”

What you need to know about squatters in New York:

What are squatters' rights in New York?

Settlors in New York State can claim the legal right to remain on a property without the owner's permission after 10 years of living there. However, in New York City, a person only needs to remain on the property for 30 days to claim squatters rights.

Why is it so difficult to get rid of a squatter?

Settlers are allowed a wide range of rights once they obtain legal occupancy, making them difficult to evict.

How does someone become a squatter?

Some scenarios in which a person becomes a squatter include: a tenant refusing to pay rent, a relative of the previous owner refusing to leave the property, or even a stranger who entered the property and never left.

according to Manhattan-based law firm Nadel & CiarloSquatters must have a reasonable basis for claiming the property as theirs and must treat the home as if they were the owner – such as doing yard work or making repairs.

How can a property owner get rid of a squatter?

Your landlord must first serve a 10-day notice to vacate, then file a complaint with the court if the order is ignored. If approved by a judge, the owner can obtain a summons and ask the sheriff to evict the squatter.

Why does the law grant squatters rights?

The law is designed to help prevent the eviction of long-term tenants. New York City's law was created partly in response to vacant and abandoned buildings that had become a blight on the city.

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How can property owners protect themselves from squatters?

Landlords should avoid keeping any properties vacant for a long period of time. They must also ensure that the building is safe, has adequate lighting, and installs surveillance cameras.

If squatters appear, owners must quickly notify the police before the squatters' rights can be established.

The whole situation has not only taken a financial toll on Reynolds — who now has to pay property taxes ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars — but it has also taken an emotional toll.

“It has affected my ability to work. I mean, who can have a completely peaceful mind? You have to have a peaceful mind to be able to work the kind of job I do. It's like a cloud over my head everywhere I go.”

There doesn't seem to be a clear path to resolution for Reynolds, who just wants the chance to build her own home and retreat on her lush Hawaiian property.

She hopes that the courts will find her a victim and that she will be compensated appropriately.

Peter Olson, the attorney representing the developer, claimed Reynolds is trying to exploit the error for her own gain.

“My client believes she is trying to exploit a mistake by PJ Construction in order to get money from my client and other parties,” Olson told The Associated Press on Wednesday of rejecting an offer to buy a similar plot of land.

He also noted that most of the plots in the jungle-like Hawaiian Paradise park are identical.

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