Rowlett police have issued an arrest warrant for a woman who allegedly rented a home under a false name.
Heather Schwab is purportedly an alleged serial squatter who has been exploiting eviction rules to live rent-free for years, according to reporting by CBS News Texas.
In late July, she allegedly rented a home from a couple in Rowlett through Zillow using the name Rayes Ruybal. Homeowners Colin and Jessica Davis said they had used Zillow’s rental program to have “Ruybal’s” identity and background reviewed, and everything came back clean.
The Davises allowed their new tenant and her 17-year-old son to move in after “Ruybal” told them they were facing safety issues at their hotel.
However, when checks for the security deposit and the first month’s rent bounced, the Davises grew suspicious. After doing some research online, Jessica found that a person appearing on her tenant’s Zillow account — Schwab, who “Ruybal” claimed was a friend — was allegedly a known serial squatter operating in Texas and Colorado.
After being evicted nearly two dozen times in Texas, Schwab and her husband William moved to Colorado and rented two properties in Adams County, where they allegedly failed to pay rent and then refused to leave until evicted. They were both charged with fraudulent conduct, found guilty, and sentenced to jail in 2018. Schwab was released early after serving 16 months of her six-year sentence in 2020.
Springing into action, the Davises called the authorities. They had tried but failed to enter the home because the locks had been changed. They launched eviction proceedings and shut the water off. However, it was not until late September that Schwab vacated the premises, allegedly leaving the Davises with rotting food, bottles filled with urine, and thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.
“It’s almost like homeless people [were] living in here,” Colin told CBS News.
The Davises had only been living in their Rowlett home for six months before learning they had to relocate to Florida for Jessica’s job. They opted to rent it out rather than sell, meaning that their encounter with a serial squatter has put them in great financial difficulty. Unable to pay both their mortgage and their rent in Florida, they recently moved in with a family member.
Despite the difficult situation, they reportedly received little help from the authorities at first, who told them it was not a criminal matter.
“Why is Texas protecting her? Because she did this once or twice in Colorado, and they put her in prison,” Jessica said to CBS.
Rowlett police eventually reconsidered the matter and issued a felony warrant for Schwab’s arrest, charging her with third-degree felony fraud for assuming a fake identity to lease property. She has yet to be located as of press time.
As of October 25, there have been 1,972 instances of fraud clocked in 2023 in nearby Dallas, where police are struggling to fight crime amid a significant officer shortage. Of these offenses, 257 were cases of identity fraud, according to the City’s crime overview dashboard.
The procedure for evictions in Dallas has been under discussion lately, with the City Council considering a new permanent eviction ordinance that would extend the time tenants have before they must vacate a property if evicted, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
Currently, seven-day and 20-day notices are given before forced removal from a home for unpaid rent. However, the tenant also has the legal right to appeal the eviction decision and can continue to live in the apartment rent-free during the appeals process.