SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - A Texas man has recently become a celebrity writing an eBook about how to claim ownership of a home for about $16.
51-year-old Bill Robinson began living in an abandoned $340,000 home in Flower Mound, Texas, last June. The house had been in foreclosure for about a year. The previous owner moved out and the mortgage company has gone out of business. Robinson moved into the house, filed a $16 dollar filing fee with a court and claimed that he has the right to live in the place because of "Adverse Possession."
But Texas isn't the only state where this can happen.
Arizona mortgage expert Dean Wegner said it's possible for squatters to make a claim of Adverse Possession in Arizona.
"If they were on a piece of property for more than 10 years, it was visible [meaning they had filed a document with a court], they never had permission, they kept the property taxes current and there's no mortgage, they could actually win that property through Adverse Possession in our state and be granted that piece of real estate for no money out of pocket," he said.
Wegner said with the large number of foreclosures currently in Arizona, it's not unusual for real estate agents to have to deal with properties where squatters have taken up residence.
"I bet you can ask any realtor in Phoenix if they've ever shown a vacant home with signs that someone has actually lived in that property," said Wegner. "It's actually common."
Wegner said that it used to be that when a real estate encountered a squatter at one of their properties, they came back to the officer, excited, with a story to tell. Now, squatters are so common that they are rarely ever talked about in real estate offices.
ABC News said that the concept of "Adverse Possession" started in the 1800's as a way to make sure an abandoned property is maintained and monitored. It requires that a public notice is posted that someone is at the property and that someone will stay there for a period of time, usually about 10 years. After that time, whoever is in the house can claim title to the property. If the original owner or mortgage owner wants it back, they would have to fight it out in court.
But Robinson is changing addresses. A Texas judge has ruled that Bank of America is the home's current lienholder, and the bank can kick him out of the property. Robinson told the Associated Press he has moved out of the house.