Many of you are already aware of the Texas man who bragged he had taken possession of an abandoned $300,000 home for $16, only to be given the boot by Bank of America. This man is part of a growing trend of people across the country trying to use “adverse possession” laws to scoop up homes left vacant.
Many states have such laws on the books that allow for people to take possession of an abandoned property by living there openly for a prescribed, often extensive, period of time, all while continuing to pay property taxes, maintaining the property and possibly making improvements.
While it all sounds like a nice way to score a house without having to pay a mortgage, the requirements for claiming adverse possession vary from state to state and often require those who have taken over the property to reside there openly for many years.
For example, here in Pennsylvania it would take 21 years for an occupier of a vacant home to claim ownership. In California, it can be as little as five years if the person occupying the property continues to pay all the property taxes.
However, most states also allot several years for the actual owner’s of the property to evict you and assert their possession of the home. So you may be able to crash in an empty house for the weeks, months or even years it can take for a bank to prove it owns the property, but the odds of you being able to eventually claim that property as yours are not in your favor.
Denver’s CBS 4 has found at least a dozen people in the area who are trying to move into empty homes and claim adverse possession. However, banks and authorities are not having it, and one man was arrested yesterday for moving his family into a $1 million home that was actually set to be sold at auction.