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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Occupancy does not guarantee ownership!

Real estate is such an interesting subject, and there are many laws and claims that people can make that are relatively unknown.  Recently, a sensational news story about a man in Dallas, Texas was brought to the forefront of the news media showing how he had laid claim to a $340,000.00 home through the use of adverse possession.  He claimed that through a $16.00 filing at the county courthouse, he could legally claim ownership of the property through this little known real estate law.  For some time, he was actually able to live in the home, for free!  While adverse possession is in fact an almost unknown way to gain ownership of real estate, his understanding of this law was flawed.

MSN Real Estate posted a great article explaining the entire situation, as well as excellent information on how adverse possession works.  Can you get a home via squatter's rights? is the question this article poses, and aims to answer.  In an age where foreclosures have left literally thousands of homes vacant, this man's attempt at gaining ownership of an empty home using adverse possession gained the interest of the national media!  A little known, real estate law loophole, was a glimmer of hope for people to try and save their properties from foreclosure, or gain a new home without purchasing a home with a large mortgage.  Unfortunately, this man had little understanding of the true facets of the law!  In fact, occupying a vacant property does not offer the occupant any legal rights of ownership!

In order to protect your rights and interests when trying to gain ownership of real estate, you should contact trusted sources.  As a Realtor, I always tell my Buyers and Sellers they can ask me any questions about real estate laws and transactions that aren't common knowledge.  If you, or anyone you know, have any questions about real estate, feel free to contact me any time.

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  1. Squatters do have more rights than one might think, though... I was listening to Dave Ramsey's show one day and in California as a landlord you can't throw out a squatter! The police can't even get them out--even if you own the place if the squatter has been there for a while! The squatter didn't have owner's rights, but, he had tenant rights! It's a scary thought that someone could just move in a place and not be escorted out...I wonder what the laws on this subject are in Indiana?

    1. Determining whether a person occupying a vacant property is simply trespassing versus "squatting" in a property is generally determined by the time that the person has been in the property. According to, getting a trespasser our of a property early is the best way to handle this. The reason police may not interfere and remove a person from a property after a certain amount of time is the fact that they have a number of possessions in the home, and the police have no desire, or need, to remove the property. In cases where the property has been occupied by a squatter, generally a court order is needed to be obtained in order to remove the squatter. For more information, check out: