"How to sell a property with a squatter inside". This short headline caught my attention when it appeared in the news feed. I read with interest. Getting rid of a squatter is easier said than done. Squatters have rights too and may in some legal systems claim right over the property. This is known as adverse possession. In most legal systems the rightful property owner cannot remove the squatter without prior order from a court. There's a difference between trespassing and squatting. Trespassing is entering without the consent of the owner and squatting is moving into an abandoned or unused house. There are some do's and dont's; get legal representation, alert the relevant authorities, start the eviction process and stick to the manual. It's important that steps are taken in the right order. Don't take the law in your own hands. Squatting is uncommon in Sweden. Nevertheless, a squatting story hit the news in 2021 and a remarkable background story unfolded. We will start from the beginning. Banker Gunnar Kassman, Ivar Kreuger's closest man, had Villa Kassman rebuilt from an old stonehouse around 1910. The property lies on Storholmen, a small island just north of Stockholm, and can be reached by commuter boat line 80. I have been there myself. On the outside, looking in. Villa Kassman is an amazing castle-like building, 700 square meters and consists of 24 rooms divided into a main building and two wings, with garden and dams. There is fame and there is notoriety. Villa Kassman appeared in a Swedish documentary about Freedom Movement (Frihetsrörelsen). The beautiful property was used as a training camp for right-wing conspiracy theorists. They had found strength and comradeship in a male community and were bending their bodies and doing handstands, all in the name of the cause.
The Kassman banking business went belly up in the beginning of 1920s. The property was converted into a boarding house. During WWII the Soviet Embassy rented the house. During this time the buildings, garden and dams fell into disrepair. The property was sold in 1949, but was not taken into possession. The buyer, a pharmacist, was namely pronounced deranged and the purchase did not go through. The house stood empty and fell deeper into disrepair. 1962 it was sold to a manufacturer who only used it as a summer house for over 30 years. In 1997 Villa Kassman was sold again. And finally, in 2021 it was sold to Tobias Appelö, a then 40-year old real estate developer. The price was 2,3 million dollars. And, here is when the story gets interesting. When the new owner came to take the property into possession he found a man in the house who refused to leave. It was Leif R. Carlsson, a former hockey player and "entrepreneur". He claimed that he had a verbal agreement with the seller, Nils Andersson (also a former hockey player and later coach). In 1997, the two men had bought the property together. Their goal was to make money of the property when Stockholm hosted the 2004 Olympic Game. However, Stockholm never got the games. The capital never stood a chance. No money were made. Allegedly, Nils Andersson paid for all costs, interest rates on loans as well as heating, water, sewage and waste collection. In 2005, Leif R. Carlsson was bought out by Nils Andersson. Leif R. Carlsson remained on the property. In 2011, the property was up for sale again, but never sold. Probably for its huge renovation needs in combination with being classified as cultural-historical irreplaceable.
In 2016, the two entrepreneurs Leif R. Carlsson and Nils Andersson took initiative to a bold and daring project which was presented on a chaotic press conference with more questions than answers. A Swedish hockey team, Crowns, would be introduced in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League, founded in 2008 with teams based in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and China). According to Leif R. Carlsson the financing of 12 million dollars was already granted. There was only one tiny detail, an approval was required from the Swedish Ice Hockey Association - something the project did not get. The project is on ice (no pun intended) and the financing is gone (if it ever existed). Back to the legal dispute. The new owner Tobias Appelö applied for judicial assistance from the Enforcement Authority in May 2021, but it was rejected. In September, however, the Enforcement Authority got a green light to evict Leif R. Carlsson after a default judgment in the Stockholm district court. Leif R. Carlsson didn't show up in court. According to him, the summons to court letter disappeared after a burglary. The dog ate my homework. On October 19, 2021 Leif R. Carlsson was evicted. There were police officers, Enforcement Authority officials and a locksmith present. The latter changed the locks. Everything went smoothly. Leif R. Carlsson immediately appealed the eviction, but it was denied. Leif R. Carlsson had to pay $9 500 in legal costs. The hockey game was over. Well, not entirely over. The new owner had become tired of the process and actually contemplated to sell the property. But ultimately changed his mind. The plan is to restore the house to its former glory, which is good. The house is in a bad shape. Many things needs to be fixed; exterior, damp damage, restoration of wallpaper and the replacement of floors. The total renovation cost is estimated to 4 million dollars (almost twice the purchase price). However, the new owner seems to have missed the fact that the property is classified as cultural-historical irreplaceable or just took a chance. He sent a request for a new local plan to the environment and urban planning office in the muncipality. The plan was to build 10 rental cabins, ice cream stand, canoe rental, sauna and new boat facility. Adding to this, a school alternatively a padel tennis court. The local authorities quickly and bluntly said no.