Get Your Own McMansion For $16

Why buy a house when you can simply take it? And it's legal, too! Kenneth Robinson found a loophole in the law that enables him to claim abandoned property for a few mere bucks in filing fee:

The home was in foreclosure, and the owner abandoned the property. That's when Robinson swooped in and, after submitting a $16 filing fee at the local courthouse, claimed the law of "adverse possession" gave him the right to occupy the home.

Adverse possession is a common law concept developed in the 1800s. According to Lucas A. Ferrara, a partner in Newman Ferrara, a New York City real estate law firm, adverse possession was enacted to ensure that property wasn't abandoned and was "maintained and monitored." It requires the posting of a clear, public notice that someone is at the property -- hence the court filing -- and that someone would remain there for a specific period of time, usually 10 years.

After the time requirement is satisfied, the Robinsons of the world have the opportunity to claim clear title to the property. In the meantime, the original property owner could fight the action, but it would be costly. And since the house has already been abandoned it's not likely the original owner would wage an expensive legal battle to get it back. The mortgage holder would have to fight a court action too.

In the meanwhile, he's living rent free! Understandably, his neighbors are upset: Link (with auto-starting video)

The rules get funky. If there are utilities in his name, he has changed the locks, and improved the site (Paint some walls, plant some flowers, simple things like that) then it becomes highly contested.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
When I got my real estate license in Washington, I was fascinated by their Adverse Possession law, which states that if someone squats on your property for 10 years, without you filing a complaint, they own your property. This seems different, unless by "swooped in" they mean staked out 10 years earlier.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Adverse possession is a strange concept. When a guy bought the property next door, I found out I had been using a patch of land that belonged to the neighbors for ten years. I parked on it, cut trees down, trimmed other trees, planted a rose garden, and laid patio stones. The neighbors never said a word. They never said a word to the woman who sold the place to me, either, as she thought it was hers (she died before we found this out). She thought it was hers because her husband (who died in the 80s) planted a tree line in the 70s and told her that's where the property line was.

My lawyer and surveyor both told me I had a good case to keep that patch under the adverse possession law -but that it would cost me thousands of dollars and years in court. As the old guy who bought that land sued people for a hobby and had nothing else to do with his time, I decided it wasn't worth it. They had already bulldozed my driveway and garden within a few days of the sale.

That patch and the whole plot is still a vacant lot, and I had to build a new driveway. Sigh. I've had that place for sale for three years now and no takers.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
My suspicion is that it won't actually work for him except as a temporary measure, but it is still a win-win-win. He lives rent free for a while, the bank ends up with a house that is free from destructive vandalism, and the neighbors live next to a maintained house rather than an unmaintained eyesore. There are a couple of places near me that would do well to have such tenants.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Flower Mound is very wealthy and very white. I'm guessing part of their ire is because he's not caucasian.

I have doubts his plan will work, but I wish him luck.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 7 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"Get Your Own McMansion For $16"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More