With the height of the foreclosure crisis hitting Florida residents harder than most other states, many Floridians have saved their homes with the help of a Florida bankruptcy attorney. However, there are a large number of homes that have also sat abandoned for quite some time.
Now, some are taking interesting measures to take ownership of these vacant properties, claiming possession under a law that is hundreds of years old.
A historic U.S. law, termed adverse possession, allows for abandoned property to be legally claimed by an interested party if he or she has lived on the property “openly and notoriously” for a minimum of seven years. Essentially a form of legal squatting until possession is granted this law has gained popularity in recent years, leading to some significant problems for banks.
Although technically still on the law books, adverse possession isn’t quite the loophole it seems. The squatter must also pay property taxes on the inventory, maintain utilities, and keep up maintenance on the home during the time of pursued possession. Further, eviction is still possible if the bank decides to pursue legal action against the squatter. Despite the potential for large out of pocket fees, risk of eviction and lawsuit from a bank, there have been growing number of cases in recent years. In just the last three years, there have been 38 documented cases of adverse possession squatters in Palm Beach County.