Kenneth Robinson lives on Waterford Drive in Flower Mound, Texas, but he doesn’t own or rent the home he claims he has a right to live in.
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.