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Entries in Squatting (3)

Wednesday
Feb132013

Boca Mansion Squatter Releases Music Video

ABC News(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- The Florida man who gained notoriety from claiming he had a legal right to squat in a $2.5 million home in Boca Raton has produced a music video, shot against a backdrop of the mansion, days after police ejected him from the home.

Bank of America asked a court to eject Andre “Loki” Barbosa from a home it owned in Boca Raton, Fla., leading police to seize the home last week while he was away from the house.

On Monday, Barbosa released a music video on YouTube, showing he and others dancing in front of green screen images of the home, as first reported by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

The Brazilian national, 23, has not been charged by police for any crime. In December, he filed papers with the court, using a legal maneuver to say he had a right to stay in the home called “adverse possession.”

Bank of America filed an injunction against Barbosa last month.

Last week, in a statement issued after the home was secured, a spokeswoman for Bank of America said it appreciated “the assistance of local authorities and the patience of neighbors as we worked to have the trespassers removed."

“We take trespassing seriously, and in the interest of the community, we will take appropriate legal action to protect this and all properties we service,” the statement said.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan262013

Bank of America Takes Florida Squatter to Court Over $2.5 Million Mansion

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Bank of America is taking a Florida man to court after he attempted to use an antiquated state law to legally take possession of a $2.5 million mansion that is currently owned by the bank.

Andre "Loki" Barbosa has lived in a five-bedroom Boca Raton, Fla., waterside property since July, and police have reportedly been unable to remove him.

The Brazilian national, 23, who reportedly refers to himself as "Loki Boy," cites Florida's "adverse possession" law, in which a party may acquire title from another by openly occupying their land and paying real property tax for at least seven years.

The house is listed as being owned by Bank of America as of July 2012, and that an adverse possession was filed in July. After Bank of America foreclosed on the property last year, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser's Office was notified that Barbosa would be moving in, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that he posted a notice in the front window of the house naming him as a "living beneficiary to the Divine Estate being superior of commerce and usury." On Facebook, a man named Andre Barbosa calls the property "Templo de Kamisamar."

After Barbosa gained national attention for his brazen attempt, Bank of America filed an injunction on Jan. 23 to evict Barbosa and eight unidentified occupants.

In the civil complaint, Bank of America said Barbosa and other tenants "unlawfully entered the property" and "refused to permit the Plaintiff agents entry, use, and possession of its property." In addition to eviction, Bank of America is asking for $15,000 in damages to be paid to cover attorney's expenses.

Police were called Dec. 26 to the home but did not remove Barbosa, according to the Sentinel. Barbosa reportedly presented authorities with the adverse possession paperwork at the time.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Povery Law Center, says police officers may be disinclined to take action even if they are presented with paperwork that is invalid.

"A police officer walks up to someone who is claiming a house now belongs to him, without any basis at all, is handed a big sheaf of documents, which are incomprehensible," Potok said. "I think very often the officers ultimately feel that they're forced to go back to headquarters and try to figure out what's going on before they can actually toss someone in the slammer."

A neighbor of the Boca property, who asked not be named, told ABCNews.com that he entered the empty home just before Christmas to find four people inside, one of whom said the group is establishing an embassy for their mission, and that families would be moving in and out of the property. Barbosa was also among them.

The neighbor said he believes that Barbosa is a "patsy."

"This young guy is caught up in this thing," the neighbor said. "I think it's going on on a bigger scale."

Barbosa could not be reached for comment.

The neighbor said that although the lights have been turned on at the house, the water has not, adding that this makes it clear it is not a permanent residence. The neighbor also said the form posted in the window is "total gibberish," which indicated that the house is an embassy, and that those who enter must present two forms of identification, and respect the rights of its indigenous people.

"I think it's a group of people that see an opportunity to get some money from the bank," the neighbor said. "If they're going to hold the house ransom, then the bank is going to have to go through an eviction process.

"They're taking advantage of banks, where the right hand doesn't know where the left hand is," the neighbor said. "They can't clap."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Texas Man Gets Mansion for $16 with Adverse Possession Law

Creatas/Thinkstock(FLOWER MOUND, Texas) -- 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.

The growing number of abandoned homes brought on by the foreclosure crisis has produced a small buzz around the idea of adverse possession.  A spokesman for the National Association of Realtors, however, said adverse possession wasn't very common and wasn't on the association's radar screen.

But a quick Google search, however, turned up plenty of websites willing to show anyone how to do what Ken Robinson did.

At AdversePossession.com, for example, for a mere $39.95, "average people" can learn how to "acquire valuable real estate for free."  The site takes steps to assure potential Robinsons that adverse possession is not squatting. "Squatter," says the site, "is an unfortunate and negative term used to describe someone who unlawfully occupies a vacant property or other real estate." Nor is occupying abandoned homes for financial gain immoral, according to the site.  It's "doing the neighborhood a favor."

Robinson's new neighbors see it differently.  They told local reporters that "If he [Robinson] wants the house, buy the house like everyone else had to..."

And Ferrara said, "it's quite an un-American notion that someone can take another's property without paying for it... After all, even the government has to pay for your property if it decides to take it from you."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio