Courts are kicking adverse possession practitioners out of homes

20 dollars

It took less than a $20 bill for Robinson to live in a $330,000 value home for six months. Image: Flickr / redjar / CC-BY-SA

In the summer of 2011, a Texas man rose to infamy with the adverse possession of a $330,000 mansion in Flower Mound, Texas. The courts, however, have decided that Kenneth Robinsoin’s adverse possession is not legal, and he has been evicted.

The history of adverse possession

Adverse possession is a common law concept that has been used in European courts from the time of Henry I, and in many American states. Adverse possession is, essentially, a way to settle property disputes. A person can claim rights to property after they have possessed it for a particular amount of time in conflict with actual property owner’s rights. This means that the possessor is essentially committing a long-term crime, and if they get away with it long enough, they are given legal benefits from the crime. Squatter’s rights are the best-known form of adverse possession.

The $16 house

Speaker Kenneth Robinson, in July of 2011, spent $16 to file an adverse possession document with the county. After filing the document, Robinson moved into the $330,000 home, kept it maintained, paid taxes, and generally acted as the homeowner. Robinson also built a website, e-book, and speaking career on his adverse possession, claiming that he was doing the neighborhood a favor by occupying an otherwise abandoned house and maintaining it. Under Texas law, Robinson would have needed to occupy the house for 30 years in order to be able to claim full legal ownership of the house, during which time he would be open to legal challenges from the rightful owners of the home. Robinson occupied a home that was in foreclosure, which meant that legal ownership of the home was in limbo.

Courts say no way

After about six months, Bank of America got all of the paperwork for the Flower Mound house in order, and took Kenneth Robinson to court. Bank of America argued that Robinson was illegally occupying the house and that he should be evicted. The courts agreed and issued an order of eviction. The order required that Robinson move out of the house by Feb. 14. By Monday, Feb. 13, Robinson had moved out of the house and did not reveal to the news media where he moved to, saying only “it’s not over until it’s over.”

Laws always favor the owner

If you are considering squatting or undertaking an adverse possession, there are a few things to be aware of. Property rights have always and will continue to favor a property owner, especially in the United States. Adverse possession is a form of squatting, which is trespassing.

[Squatting is a way of getting free rent, but legal costs can be high. A cash advance can help cover some of these costs.]

Squatting is illegal, and squatter’s rights take years to establish; sometimes as long as a mortgage. Neighbors, homeowner associations and other civic groups may also fight your adverse possession.

Sources

Business Insider
ABC News
GoUpState.com

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