"Adversely Possessing" Empty Houses: Robin Hood Or Fraudster?

Citing a law from the 1850’s, Mark is going around Florida looking for foreclosed and abandoned houses and filing paperwork to try to claim their deeds. It’s called “adverse possession.”

If he maintains the house and fixes it up and the owner doesn’t respond to his inquiries, Mark says, then the houses will become his after 7 years.

The concept of claiming derelict land is old and well-established. But the question is whether he has the right to, as he has done, find low-income tenants for the properties and rent it out to them, before his claim is established.

His renters see him as Robin Hood. The law sees him as a parasite. Another guy in the area trying to do the same thing spent a year in jail on fraud, trespassing and burglary charges that he ultimately plead out.

“There are over 4,000 homeless in Broward, and the number is growing all the time,” Mark told the New York Times. “I thought I could use these homes and put people into them. It could be a good thing,” adding, “It’s not rocket science.”

At Legal Fringe, Empty Houses Go to the Needy [NYT]