Canny fellow gets foreclosed $300K house for $16 adverse possession filing

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70 Responses to “Canny fellow gets foreclosed $300K house for $16 adverse possession filing”

  1. erg79 says:

    Kenneth Robinson did an interview on Bomani Jones’ show this morning:
    http://thescore.vo.llnwd.net/o25/score_radio/the-morning-jones-ep638-id3238.mp3?1311085173

  2. Raines Cohen says:

    On another board, some of the discussion/speculation about reasons for neighbor complaint included possible exemption from the Home-Owner’s Association (HOA) by taking title in this fashion. If dues are not paid, perhaps the HOA would be able to file a lien agains the property and eventually foreclose and sell in order to be made whole… but not if title was acquired through this unconventional outside-normal-channels not-anticipated-by-the-condo docs path? That was the line of thinking as to one underlying cause of objection.

  3. ZachMatthews says:

    I’m a lawyer, but not in Texas. Adverse possession serves a good purpose; it makes sure land doesn’t just sit there being wasted.

    I have a home next door to my house in Atlanta that has been abandoned for a year now. The bank which owns it is probably Bank of America, and they have literally done nothing to it. I have been mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges, but that house is just deteriorating before my eyes.

    Those neighbors ought to consider that *any* owner is better than no owner. And even if he gets the house for free, that at least means he’ll be able to pay for electricity and water and afford to keep the place up, which is more than I can say for my non-existent neighbors.

  4. semiotix says:

    Oooh, adverse possession. Many a spittle-flecked roar of outrage has been spewed upon the interwebs over that topic! Although probably not today, since the, ahem, “victim” is whoever owns the corpse of a mortgage company.

    I’m a little confused as to the motives of the neighbors, because it’s not like his $16 is going to be factored into the neighborhood property value statistics, and LIKE FUN he’s going to live there for long. For better or for worse, this guy is way too smart to pass up the many opportunities he’ll have to sell or settle this for pennies on the dollar (but, more importantly, dollars to his pennies). And that “complicated lawsuit” he says he thinks the bank won’t file? I’m guessing he’s calculated exactly how many thousands of dollars the hassle is worth to the bank, and will take any offer that’s a dollar higher. (Probably not too high, either.)

    Now if it really is straight up racism (or really, really sour grapes) that’s getting the neighbors antsy, okay, that sucks. But if it’s a question of the neighbors feeling like the original owner, pre-foreclosure, is getting the shaft, well, that’s a lot more understandable (if legally meaningless).

  5. Anonymous says:

    As a small child, I took adverse possession of my younger brother’s candy bar once. I was told by the authorities at the time that it did not belong to me, and thus it was not right to take it.

    While I understand the historical basis for adverse possession laws, I think don’t serve a counterproductive function in modern society.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone else wonder why the local government hasn’t evicted him under health and safety codes? It’s against the law to actually live in a building with no power or water in most communities I know of.

  7. ADavies says:

    It’s weird how the neighbors get upset just because they’re getting screwed on their mortgages and he’s getting a better deal. I think this is sort of like when people cut you off in heavy traffic just because they don’t want to be ahead of them.

    After all, it’s only the bank this fellow is really hurting, and I think few Americans have much sympathy for the bank at this point.

    Note: He doesn’t really get the house for nothing because he does have to do a certain amount of work for it (legal research, occupation, etc.), and take on some risk (ie. arrest). Though it does sound like a pretty good deal.

    Maybe more people will try it, and maybe that will provide an incentive not to have homes sitting empty and unused.

  8. hungryjoe says:

    If we can find out which entity foreclosed on this property, then do a public records search for other properties to which they hold title, then we can get free-ish houses as well.

    This may not be so relevant for most, but my family and friends still live in Denton.

  9. TNGMug says:

    Neverming the “free” thing, I’m still hung up on the $300K, which is close enough to free as it is – with that kind of money in Calgary you *might* be able to find a 3 bedroom bungalow with a kitchen updated as recently as the 1980′s.

    … then you get to shovel the driveway from october until may

  10. Chris says:

    Good for him! And what is the problem with his neighbors? Are they maybe a little jealous that he figured out a way to get himself a free house? Well, too bad. Maybe if they had the brains to study the law and find this loophole they might have been able to do the same thing. I’m now looking into doing this myself.

  11. CastanhasDoPara says:

    Good for this guy I fully support him in this endeavour much as I would for most squatters. After all, what good is being served by having all of these properties vacant. Protecting some vague profit motive is surely not enough of a reason to bar this sort of occupancy.

    As to the lady’s ‘vibe’ in this piece, she does certainly seem to be holding something back. And very few things seem logical to hold back in an interview for local news. Among those I would think racism, class-ism, and possibly sour grapes but sour grapes while tacky and crass in this situation is still a fairly reasonable response from a person under the mantle of crushing debt seeing their new neighbor win big while they trudge on.

  12. ocschwar says:

    We have a glut of houses in our country, that helped precipitate an economic depression, that is causing thousands of people to wind up homeless.

    I’m not waiting for people like this guy. I’,m lobbying to get my town to start seizing empty houses by eminent domain and find residents for them.

  13. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    Just because no one has burned a cross on his lawn, or made overt racial remarks, doesn’t mean you can say that racism isn’t involved here. It’s a lily-white upper middle class suburb in Texas; according to the census bureau, it’s 3.1% black, with a median family income of almost $120K. The chances that it *is* at least partly racially-motivated are so high that you have to assume a purity of motives on the part of the neighbors that stretches the imagination.

  14. DoctressJulia says:

    Oh, hell yeah! This is awesome. I hope this happens more. And, I totally got the racist and sour grapes vibe from the woman they interviewed. I kind of liked watching her fume on camera- like ‘oh noes a black man is living on my street!’.

    I’m in Wisconsin… I wonder if there are any houses like that around here?

    • daneyul says:

      >>And, I totally got the racist and sour grapes vibe from the woman they interviewed.

      Racist vibe? Being as she didn’t say anything racist, is that vibe implicit every time someone has a complaint against a person or color, or was she actually…vibrating? Or was it something in her eyebrows? Please–tell me more! (Right now, I have to depend on more explicit clues to detect prejudice… like, for instance, when people make vague comments about people’s “vibes”.)

      • Mister44 says:

        Don’t you get it? Everyone white in the south is a racist. Especially Texas.

        Good gawd. I love how people loooovveee to throw racism around when they have *NO* evidence of it – just making asinine assumptions. It cheapens the word and makes people numb to it.

        • Gulliver says:

          Don’t you get it? Everyone white in the south is a racist. Especially Texas.

          People see what they want to see. Some see an upper-middle-class white woman in a southern state complaining about what she thinks is a squatter, and they assume she must hate minorities. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. Who cares? Arguing with people’s biases is like arguing with a wall, a waste of effort. If they want to question their prejudices, they’re already doing so. If not, no amount of debate will sway them. Human beings don’t like accepting what they don’t know about each other, and many deal with it by filling in the variables with their own cultural preconceptions.

          Maybe the neighbors are pissed they trapped themselves under a mountain of debt while someone more clever got a similar house next door for $16. Again, who cares? Natural selection. They can suck it.

          Maybe a neighbor acquiring a house for essentially zilch will affect their equity and thus ability to refinance as interest rates become more favorable. If so, too friggin bad.

  15. Anonymous says:

    While at first excited and curious (for my own sake) as to how he (and I ) could pull this off, after some reflection of the tragedies behind this, I would be inclined to let the family who lost everything on this property start all over again.

    AS for the enterprising man, I would put him in touch with Habitat for Humanity http://www.habitat.org/how/historytext.aspx

    It seems to me Augustus Gladstone:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2011/07/18/video-tour-by-a-guy.html has slightly more integrity

    There are governments that orchestrate misfortune for home owners and reward ne’r-do-wells

    I know we were over taxed off our Ancestral land in 2005 by 150%

  16. jeblucas says:

    Careful all you eager Boingers. Laws for adverse possession varies wildly by state, hit the library and do your research before you start a-squattin’.

    I am pretty sure my neighbor’s fence is a few inches on my side of the property line. At least once a year, in front of other witnesses, I explain that it’s OK for him to have his fence on my property should that be the case. This is the “permission” clause, which mitigates adverse possession. He won’t be able to claim that is the new property line as long as I keep doing this.

    • Anonymous says:

      “This is the “permission” clause, which mitigates adverse possession.”

      Doesn’t work in Kansas. Similar situation. My parent’s neighbors ripped up their fenceline and moved it a few feet inside the hedge row rather than pay a dime for the thousand square feet or so they were encroaching.

  17. redstarr says:

    Since it’s a bank getting the screw this time, it doesn’t feel as bad, but it’s a precedent I don’t like to see set. Today, it’s a belly-up bank that foreclosed on someone then let a house sit empty. But tomorrow that sort of squatter’s claim could be used against an individual who actually owns an empty property.

    I like that there’s a law in place so that genuinely abandoned properties can come back into use, but there needs to be a much stricter criteria for being able to claim them and a better way of assuring they’re reintegrated into the community appropriately. Letting a guy just camp there with no utilities, paying no property taxes, no way to enforce upkeep of the house and lawn, is not doing the community any favors. There needs to be a way for the squatter to prove that they’re doing something good with the property and the community. They need to be able to revitalize the property and be able to take care of it and have utilities and participate in the economy and pay taxes and such. As it is, the squatters are only allowed to be a liability to a neighborhood, rather than an asset. It’s no wonder they don’t welcome him.

    I’m thinking squatters should have to prove that they’ve maintained and made improvements to the house, paid up property taxes,become involved in the community, etc., in order to be able to gain legal rights to the property. They should have to be able to prove that them occupying is doing more for the greater good than the building sitting empty.

  18. d3matt says:

    yay! FloMo is featured on BoingBoing (oh wait…)

    I doubt that house would pull in $300K if it was sold at market value. a 2 story house down the street from it is currently listed at $325.

    Also, he’s going to probably have trouble with the HOA long before his 3 years are up unless he can hookup water for his lawn.

  19. Donald Petersen says:

    Neato! My hat’s off to the canny gentleman for doing his homework. The neighbors can sit & spin.

  20. archmagetrexasaurus says:

    “Get the money, buy the house.”

    LOL

    Because everyone else in the neighborhood could afford their homes? I think the fact that this was a foreclosure tells a different story.

    Also, 3 years without power or water, and terrible neighbors trying to get you kicked out? It sounds to me like he’s really earning the $300K.

  21. jphilby says:

    Wow! Eminent domain for the people? Who knew?

    If it wasn’t Texass I’d want to shake this person’s hand.

  22. Anonymous says:

    His possession of the property is just as legal as purchasing. That is according to the law.

  23. Mitch_M says:

    Let the neighbors find their own free houses instead of being bitter about him finding one!

  24. Jupiter12 says:

    This BoingBoing story from a few years ago turned me off to the idea of squatter’s rights:
    http://boingboing.net/2007/11/21/land-grab-case-in-bo.html

    This guy did his homework and I hope it works out for him because his circumstances are a bit different from the linked story above. I don’t see any basis for claims of racism though. Neither he nor his neighbors made any allusion to this being a race issue. Can’t we commentors look beyond his skin color and treat him simply as a person who found a way to get a cheap house instead of a black guy who moved into whitey’s neighborhood? This story isnt about the fact that he’s black. It’s about getting a $300k house for $16. Good for him.

    • Gulliver says:

      That’s messed up. But, as you said, the circumstances are quite different. That was bald-faced abuse of adverse possession to steal land clearly belonging to someone else who planned to build a house to live in. This property is so far under water the mortgage owner walked away and the bank went belly-up. This is more arguably what the law was intended for, to prevent disused properties from languishing in ownership limbo. Still, it makes a good point. Two actually.

      1) Laws that may serve justice in one circumstances may be perverted in another.

      2) Retired politicians and judges have friends in high places.

  25. Anonymous says:

    That’s no gentleman. A gentleman would get a house without incurring bad karma instead…

  26. grimc says:

    The most surprising thing to me about this is that an affidavit titled “Avidavit” was airtight enough to be valid.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I think everyone is missing the big picture. When the time comes and he own the house, will he able to afford it?

    Taxes, maintenance, utilities, etc…
    Somehow he just doesn’t strike me as a working man.

    I also doubt that he would be able to sell the property as no-one wants to purchase it for rock bottom foreclosure prices already; nevermind three years from now after the house has gone without maintenance.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Their objection isn’t based on his ability to occupy it w/out a mortgage. More likely, that he’s black. Sad that they’d rather that the house sit vacant. Kudos to him. I hope everything works out for the best, though I predict that he’ll sell the house three years from now because of bad neighbors!

    • Mister44 says:

      Do you always just make shit up? Oh the only possible reason for someone to object is because of their race??!! o_0

      Of course – if the same person had used a loophole to take possession of a copyright or used eminent domain to take someone’s property, we would be calling for justice.

      • Anonymous says:

        Poor examples. In both copyright or eminent domain cases, another party makes claim of ownership. This is a very nice abandoned house on a nice lot. He’s the only one making an ownership claim.

        It’s not really a loophole. The law makes perfect sense. No community wants abandoned property with no owners making claim to it.

      • Anonymous says:

        “If he wants the house, buy the house like everyone else had to,” Lowrie said. “Get the money, buy the house.”

        Hey, if he wants to live in a white neighborhood, be white like everybody else. Get the white parents, get born white.

        It’s all so easy you see!

        There’s a “thorn” character in my reCaptcha, for chrissakes.

  29. nixiebunny says:

    They’re just jealous because they don’t know how to game the system like this guy does. More power to him.

  30. cheem says:

    “Avidavit”? It’s spelled “Affidavit”… where did that form come from?!

  31. ecobore says:

    Pathetic isn’t it.. Texans go on about freedom to do as they wish, and here is somebody being incredibly entrepreneurial (and has obviously studied Texas law, so no fool,) and the neighbours are all up tight because he is only paying $16 for the house.. Basically just jealous aren’t they?!?

    • Gulliver says:

      Pathetic isn’t it.. Texans go on about freedom to do as they wish, and here is somebody being incredibly entrepreneurial (and has obviously studied Texas law, so no fool,) and the neighbours are all up tight because he is only paying $16 for the house.. Basically just jealous aren’t they?!?

      The problem with that stereotype is that Mr. Robinson is a Texan too. It would be like me saying Wisconsinites go on about the excessive entitlements of unions. Sure the neighbors are creepaziods, but most Texans don’t live in McMansions and try to get their neighbors arrested.

      As for the enterprising gentleman, he’s got some serious homebuyer-fu!

  32. Ricemanva says:

    Looks like he is in for a real long haul. The 3 year statute seem to require that he have a deed (even a defective deed) or a contract of sale. He’s going to have to tough it out for 10 years to fall under the statute that lets you claim property without a deed. Finding a key is not the same as having a deed.

    Owners should be able to get him out by recording a simple affidavit that he is trespassing. Paying off the mortgage should not be a prerequisite.

    No deed or contract makes this claim as hard to enforce as you would think it would be.

    • asuffield says:

      Owners should be able to get him out by recording a simple affidavit that he is trespassing. Paying off the mortgage should not be a prerequisite.

      The important thing here is that the other person who claims to be the owner no longer is: their mortgage has already been foreclosed. They would have to buy back the property from the bank they lost it to before they had the right to claim trespass.

      Normally that would mean the bank now owns the property and would throw him out, then sell the house at auction. But the bank in question went bankrupt and is now just a pile of toxic debts. He’s betting that whoever has been left holding the bag will not be interested in resuming trading on those assets, and hence will have no reason to attempt to take possession of the property.

      The whole point of adverse possession is to allow land rendered unusable by this sort of corporate idiocy to be reclaimed and reused.

    • hungryjoe says:

      Whatever document he filed may be a stand-in for deed or contract of sale. I doubt the owner is interested in resuming ownership of this house, and the entity that foreclosed on the property is defunct.

      On the other hand, this guy picked a very visible property, and the article won’t help him much, either. Based on my ten minutes of research, the best you can hope for in a situation like this is to fly under the radar for the period of adverse possession required by law.

      By the way, posting the “No Trespassing” signs seems to fulfill one of the basic adverse possession requirements.

    • daen says:

      Actually, trespass is a necessary part of adverse possession – you can’t invoke adverse possession without it. He’s very smart to have put up the “No trespassing” signs himself – this indicates that he is treating the property as his own. The press coverage is also extremely useful in this regard. The neighbours themselves don’t have anything to do with this. I certainly don’t think they can claim trespass on behalf of the legal owner.

      BUT if the previous owner also wants to be canny then they should grant explicit permission for Mr Robinson to use the property for a period of time less than the 10 years required under Sec. 16.026 of the Texan Civil Practices and Remedies Code (CPRC). I believe that would be sufficient to throw a spanner in the adverse possession claim.

    • bardfinn says:

      IANAL IANYL ATINLA — Texas law requires that uninterested third parties (that would be the neighbours) are unable to record affidavits of trespassing as they do not own and thus do not control the property — only those who own the property or their agents or assigns may record affidavits of trespass. Which, interestingly enough, is why you can’t have your own neighbour arrested for trespassing on their own property.

      Let whoever holds the deed step forward.

  33. Anonymous says:

    This guy deserves a pat on the back, 1. for finding this gem of a house, 2. for working out the legalities and most importantly, 3. for pissing his neighbours off unintentionally but also in the best way possible.

    And note, he didn’t say one bad thing about the neighbours the whole story, fair play to him.

  34. Antinous / Moderator says:

    But the bank in question went bankrupt and is now just a pile of toxic debts.

    It’s become common in the era of mass foreclosures for banks to foreclose, but not take title. That apparently relieves them of responsibility for upkeep on the tens of thousands of empty buildings that they now technically own. When they do that, the home is in ownership limbo, and a bank that didn’t properly take title might not be able to legally defend the property. So even if the bank still existed, it might find itself unable to press its claims. Property laws weren’t set up with the idea that there would be vast numbers of homes to which nobody is willing to take title.

  35. hungryjoe says:

    The More You Know.

  36. ocschwar says:

    “Maybe a neighbor acquiring a house for essentially zilch will affect their equity and thus ability to refinance as interest rates become more favorable. If so, too friggin bad.”

    Maybe? This is a recent subdivision. All the houses built this millenium are shit. Their “value” is determined exclusively by whether people in lower tax brackets are allowed to live nearby.

  37. Anonymous says:

    “IANAL IANYL ATINLA”

    I am not a lawyer, I am now your lovely Attila the Hun?

    got away from me at the end.

  38. GuyNoir says:

    @grimc: Great Catch! Google doesn’t give a good explanation as to what an “avidavit” is. And the document got approved by the state? Figures.

    Adverse Possesion does seem to be a valid way of establishing ownership, however:

    http://www.lonestarlandlaw.com/Adverse.html

  39. CH says:

    I want to give a standing ovation for this guy! Assuming that his claim is right, the neighbors could have done exactly the same thing, so what are they crying about? And if the situation is as it is stated, that house would probably just sit there rotting, so better that somebody is taking care of it. And now there is a nice gentleman living there!

    But hmm… may it be that they would rather have nice middle class, preferably white, people living there who can afford that 300k? Well, I’m probably just being unnecessarily judgemental, I’m sure that isn’t the issue at all. But I’m a bit confused on what the issue really is. If the house is abandoned, and you can take posession like the gentleman in question is doing, well… what is the issue? In what way exactly does it matter to the neighbors in what way the house ownership is aquired, as long as it is done in a legal matter? Does it _really_ matter to them, if it cost 300k or 15? Incidently, in my neck of the woods, for $300k you couldn’t buy anything even close to something like that house… can I get those house “owners” thrown out of their houses because they only payed 300k? I’m really jealous, please advice!

    • emmdeeaych says:

      “In what way exactly does it matter to the neighbors in what way the house ownership is aquired, as long as it is done in a legal matter? Does it _really_ matter to them, if it cost 300k or 15?”

      in the same exact what that gay marriage ruins straight marriage. It’s only value is that you can feel superior by keeping others from getting what you got. Christ, I’ve never seen a 300K house that was worth 300 actual K. People pay to be near their people… in this case I suspect its the “afraid of home invasion soccer-mom / viagra popping lawn-care dad” set.

    • Gulliver says:

      But hmm… may it be that they would rather have nice middle class, preferably white, people living there who can afford that 300k? Well, I’m probably just being unnecessarily judgemental, I’m sure that isn’t the issue at all.

      It doesn’t matter because legally they can’t do jack crap about it. That’s the real beauty :)

      As for their motive, I can’t read their minds, but I can do math. If the home next door goes for 16 buckeroonies, what effect does that have on their own home values? Granted this is not the usually way to undersell a competitor, but I’m wondering if it could severely lower their equity in their own homes. If so then it’s an extreme example of all those people who complain that their neighbors are selling their homes or condos for so far below market price that they can’t unload their own properties for even the amount left on their mortgage note.

      • Anonymous says:

        “If the home next door goes for 16 buckeroonies, what effect does that have on their own home values?”

        $16 was not the purchase price, it was legal fees. He is not purchasing the house. The most recent purchase price would still be whatever the forecloseees had paid for it.

      • donniebnyc says:

        I’m sorry but the “If the home next door goes for 16 buckeroonies, what effect does that have on their own home values?” argument doesn’t hold water. While normally the value of a house is only what someone is willing to pay for it, that rule does not apply in this extreme case.

        Even if the person who was smart enough to figure out a way to grab this $300k home for $16 is content after investing three years of their life on, say, tripling their initial investment and selling for $48 (which is hardly likely) you still wouldn’t have an argument because no other home in the area would be selling for such a paltry amount. If a potential buyer came into my home that was for sale for $300k and told me I should lower my price because the house next door sold for $48, my response would be, “You just keep looking for another $48 house and let me know when you find one.”

        I can’t read minds either, but I think sour grapes and/or racism as reasons for the neighbors’ anger is worth a second look.

  40. Alvis says:

    “If he wants the house, buy the house like everyone else had to,” Lowrie said. “Get the money, buy the house.”

    20 to 1 says Lowrie “bought” his house with a mortgage. You can rationalize it all you want, but mortgage = debt = not 100% your house.

  41. CSMcDonald says:

    “Found the key”

    Uh yeah. Sure.

  42. Gulliver says:

    Talk about a buyer’s market :D

  43. facetedjewel says:

    On the one hand, I want to applaude the guy for reading the finely printed legalese more carefully than most of us who sign mortgages…’and here…and here…and next to the ‘x’…and this one too…sign here and date it’,etc – to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The sticker shock is ghastly. Ms. Lowrie wants to be sure everyone in *her* neighborhood shares her pain.

    But no water? In Texas? He may be content with bottled water to drink , cook and bath with, but that lovely landscape is going to burn up and become an eyesore. Surely he doesn’t want the value of the property to plummet $30-40K. With that possibility in mind, it’s more likely he’s looking for someone to pay him enough to go away.

  44. daen says:

    Ah, except, of course, that the owner is the (out-of-business) bank. Well, Mr Robinson: congratulations on your new home!

  45. Antinous / Moderator says:

    On the other hand, this guy picked a very visible property, and the article won’t help him much, either.

    To the contrary, one of the requirements for adverse possession is that it be ‘notorious’.

  46. sg says:

    The system of land titles works on the principle of superior claims. If the statutory period goes by and nobody comes out of the woodwork to assert a superior claim, this guy will end up winning.

    Given the same set of circumstances, there is no reason this strategy wouldn’t work in other places.

    For all you kids prepping for the bar exam, AP requires possession of the property that is:
    Actual
    Open
    Notorious
    Hostile
    Without permission
    Continuous and uninterrupted for the statutory period.

    and for bonus points remember folks, MERS is a fraud and can’t claim legal ownership of the mortgage or the note. Anyone downstream of MERS in the chain of title therefore likely has a defective title as well.

    This is not legal advice, I am not your lawyer, yadda yadda yadda.

  47. Anonymous says:

    It’s difficult to believe that he just happened to find a key. It’s likely that he broke into the house and replaced the locks. Not exactly worthy of praise in my book, and likely one reason for the neighbors’ ire.

  48. daen says:

    Part of adverse possession is the requirement that you treat the property as your own. That means he would do well to get the grass cut and power and water restored ASAP. And be prepared to keep the place looking like he really does own it for ten years. Note TEN, not THREE years – he makes no claim to legal title, which would potentially qualify him to own the place within three years – or even color of title (a legally defective claim to title), which would potentially qualify him within five years. Ten years is the default case under Texas CPRC.

    Even if he did break in, it doesn’t invalidate his claim – in fact, trespass is a necessary aspect of adverse possession. But his breaking into the property was not with the intent of theft (and hopefully he was smart enough to not try to sell anything he found inside the house, because that’s a whole other ballgame). Adverse possession, bizarrely, is not theft.

    Gates and fences and locks and doors don’t prevent adverse possession claims, they just make it clear to those who would pursue them that there is already a prior claim to ownership. He did exactly the right thing in filing the affidavit, and unless the rightful owner intervenes, there isn’t a damn thing anyone can legally do to prevent him pursuing legal title. But it seems to me that it’s a long and potentially tiring course to take.

  49. agreenster says:

    So…why doesnt he hook up water and electricity? If he’s gonna move in…MOVE IN! And mow your lawn for cripes sakes.

  50. g0d5m15t4k3 says:

    I applaud him if he wins this out. There is a disused alley behind my house I’ve contemplated finding out if I can add that to my property. Some hoodlums like to use it as a path behind the houses. I’d like to use it as a nice little garden!

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      IANAL, but I once long ago did some independent reading as to how ownership of land may be generally be determined, and IIRC, the specific system of registration used to record the title of land parcels – and there are several such distinct systems in use in our world, always depending on which State, Province and/or Country you live in – always plays a crucial role in these so-called “adverse possession” claims: in fact, iirc, some systems actually and explicitly “do away” with the doctrine, so that such a claim can NEVER succeed.

      But it seems to me that your situation is beyond the usual situation, in that you are talking of an “alley” – a road, in other words – which is, or was at some time in the past, a public throughway of some sort: and afaik it is always and ever more difficult to claim such land, to which the Public has or has had some legal or equitable right of ownership or use, as one’s very own exclusive real property, under the doctrine of “adverse possession” .

      OTOH, if I was you – which I’m not – I’d probably simply grow the veg, and see if there is a complaint of some sort. There could very well be.

      But even if you openly did that for many many years and got no complaints whatsoever, you could have very very great problems selling that patch to the next owner with clear title: it is tough to squat a road, and then make others respect your claim of exclusive rights to it.

      In fact, now that I come to think on it, I recall that my city has procedures on the books and in place to close disused roads or alleys, and to then “divvy” such up amongst the neighbouring landholders – maybe your municipality does too, and you and your neighbours can get it done formally and legally – without relying on some Judge to employ some murky, inconsistent, non-statutory and ancient legal doctrine to rule that it is yours.

  51. robcat2075 says:

    Am I the only one cynical enough to think that if some white guy had moved into that house that the neighbors would not have even bothered to inquire what he had paid for it or how he had happened to come by it?

    Flower Mound is a white-flight suburbanite town, part of a distant zone similar communities north of Dallas.

    @ RiceManva

    I’m in Dallas, not far from the city of the story.

    Several years ago I found about that the land “my” driveway was on was actually a different lot, abandoned by the owners.

    A lawyer I consulted immediately brought up “adverse possession” as a way get the lot and the time frame and process he described was not nearly as disadvantageous as you suggest.

    I had to move faster than three years however because taxes hadn’t been paid on the land in 14 years and the city was going to foreclose and sell that lot at a tax auction. I found the owners and bought the strip of land for a token sum and paid the back taxes before the auction to end that process.

    With a bit more time “adverse possession” might have worked for me.

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