Friday, November 26, 2010

Another step closer to Mad Max?

The latest symptom of the smoking caldera that sits where the California housing market used to be is the Beverly Hillsquatter.

Apparently the people moving into the foreclosed house down the street might not have actually, you know, asked the bank if they'd mind or anything.

And this isn't the 'hood or Modular Housing Acres we're talking about, either.

Be sure to watch the videos. Given the foot-dragging by the authorities reported in the article, you have to wonder if more active neighborhood watches might not increase in popularity...

(H/T to Jay G.)


Crucis said...

In Britain, it's allowed---an old law from the time of the Black Plague. There was a story about a man who went off on "holiday" to Spain. While he was gone, some squatters moved into his house, sold most of the furnishings, and set up house. When the owner returned, the cops refused to turn the squatters out. They said it was "unattended" and therefore they had a legal right to move in.

It's in court but the owner doesn't appear to have much chance of reclaiming his property.

Seen on-line at the UK Telegraph.

Phillip said...

It's called Adverse Possession. There is actually a precept in the law for it, and if done correctly can be used to claim ownership of abandoned property.

A search of Squatter's rights will turn up more than you care to know about it.

It was even taught in the real estate course that I took many years ago.

One of the gotchas is that you need to maintain or improve the property, and you have to live there openly. If you're caught and the owner tells you to move on, then you become trespassers. The amount of time needed to claim ownership varies by state, but it can be as little as six months if I recall correctly.

I seem to recall something about being unable to sell the property unencumbered for a period of time after possession is taken, too.

Not saying I agree, but just pointing out that it is legal and has been around for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Back when I lived in Virginia there was an accommodation in the statutes that allowed for adverse possession; if you demonstrated possession for seven years, either by use of the land or by emplacement of a fence, it became yours, dependent upon demonstration of use or such emplacement in court.

When I worked for IBM, I remember that once a year a road was closed for 25 hours adjacent to the East Fishkill, NY plant; the road was routinely used by commuters but was on IBM property, and once a year it was completely closed to all access to confirm that it was IBM who owned the road and the property it was on, to make sure that there was no doubt that IBM owned it and that no one else might lay claim to it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the neighbors would feel if the new "occupant" were to mow the lawn, clean out the gutters, and do general upkeep? Especially since it would no longer scream "Empty house! Please strip me!".

The problem isn't the squatters, per se. It's the looters.


Tam said...

"I wonder how the neighbors would feel if the new "occupant" were to mow the lawn, clean out the gutters, and do general upkeep?"

I doubt they'd notice.

However, how many people inclined to do such things are likely to squat in the first place? I'm sure there's a minority that do, but still...

Stranger said...

Adverse possession was quite common during the 1929 Depression. Most of the squatters got out when the rightful owner showed up, but some took reasonably good care of the property, and paid the dollar or two a year that was demanded in county taxes. After three years it was theirs.

I know of several houses that are still in the possession of the squatters families. It's amusing to hear "my great great grandpa built that house in the 1890's" when the family broke down there in 1938.


skidmark said...

Nobody else comments on dressing up the neighbors in hoodies and ballcaps and hiding them in shadows?


stay safe.

Standard Mischief said...

Adverse Possession laws have their uses. They prevent land (a resource) from sitting unused when they could be generating income that the state could tax.

It's also handy to resolve boundary disputes. If the fence line has stood for 100 years but upon survey it's found to be one foot off, changing the actual property line is far easier than moving the fence and recalculating taxes.

The time until the claim has "ripened" varies from state to state but in Maryland it's 20 years. The stories about six months and three years are probably tall tails. If the squatters have been living in the house for as little as a few months, however, they can't be "instantly" evicted.

The only known-to-me successful claims for adverse possession where the claimants actually got an actual building was where the former owners were the local government.

Phillip said...

In FL it's a little less time:

Basically, it's 7 years and payment of taxes. You can get a title from the tax assessor after 4 years.