Squatters Rights in Dracula’s Castle

Once upon a time just before dawn, Dracula stretched into his coffin for a long nap.  Exhausted from flapping as a bat, he was ready for an extended rest, undisturbed by a steak plunged in his heart, or gunfire with silver ammo, and certainly he wanted no part of smelly garlic.  He closed the lid to his coffin and went fast to sleep. On Halloween, a Pirate knocked at Dracula’s castle door.  “Trick or treat?” said the Pirate, but there was no answer.  The Pirate knocked again, louder this time, but again there was no answer.  After the third time, the Pirate let himself in to look for candy. He opened the door to Dracula’s castle and what he found was a bounty of grandiose treasure—lavishly appointed, the luxurious layout held spectacular views in all directions.  Why would anyone ever want to leave? thought the Pirate, though indeed no one seemed to be at home, and given the state of the cobwebs, no one had been there in quite some time.  So the Pirate wholesale moved in.  He started paying the utilities and got the tax bill put in his name. This went on for seven years, until one night […] Read More

Rejoice! Your Property Tax Bill Is Here

The good thing about receiving your property tax bill is that it means you are wealthy enough to own real estate and that no one has taken that property from you.  Of course the bad thing is that you have to pay the tax bill if you wish to continue that status. November is the month known for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and property taxes.  If you think you own property and did not receive a tax bill (or notice) recently, that is your Constructive Notice that something is going on with the ownership title to your property.  (It does not mean taxes were not owed.) Someone else may have paid the tax bill in hopes of eventually gaining your property.  Adverse Possession (or squatters’ rights) takes Actual, Hostile, Open, Notorious, Exclusive and Continuous occupation of the property.  The squatter has to change the tax bill to their name and pay it.  While Common Law requires twenty years to obtain Adverse Possession, in Florida it only takes seven. If you did not receive a property tax bill and think you should have, consult an attorney to investigate, or you can go online to the property appraiser’s office for more information.  In […] Read More

When the Cat’s Away, The Mice Could Take Adverse Possession

When the cat’s away, the mice will play Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, and ZZ Top!  The same thing could happen in Adverse Possession. My brother, Stephen, and I host a radio show twice a month.  Our music taste is not always the same, so when Stephen is away, I get to play hard rock transition music on the show.  It is actual, open, notorious, and possibly hostile (depending on your music preference)—some of the same traits required for Adverse Possession in land ownership. Adverse Possession is also known as Squatters’ Rights or Land Piracy. “A Hooker ON Every Corner” is one mnemonic for remembering the elements of Adverse Possession where the claimant has to establish Actual, Hostile, Open, Notorious, Exclusive, Continuous occupation of the property. In Florida, it only takes seven years for someone to gain Adverse Possession of real estate.  In some states, it takes 20 years of open, hostile, notorious use by Common Law with no stipulation regarding property taxes.  However, Florida passed a Statutory Law on Adverse Possession, reducing the number of years to seven and requiring that the person trying to take possession pay the property taxes. Like hard rock, Adverse Possession is not necessarily a bad […] Read More

No-Man’s Land & Randy Quaid

Nobody wants Randy Quaid.  He fled the country for Canada in 2010 with a felony charge.  While the United States is not seeking extradition, Canada has just denied permanent residency to Quaid.  He is stuck in no-man’s land with no place to empty a chemical toilet. Randy Quaid, a.k.a. “Cousin Eddie” from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, turned land pirate a few years ago.  While the ownership of his Santa Barbara estate was tied up in legal debate, Quaid made a run at adverse possession—trying to seize the guesthouse by actual, hostile, open, notorious, exclusive, and continuous occupation. The purpose of squatters’ rights—a.k.a. adverse possession, a.k.a. land piracy—is to maintain a property if the owner abandons it.  Adverse possession does not have to be a bad thing, but it often is not pretty, especially with Randy Quaid to put a face on it.  He has a felony vandalism charge with a bill of $5,000 racked up in damages to the Santa Barbara villa.  Squatting just does not work out for everybody. If you are in the no-man’s land of foreclosure, seek competent legal counsel to find out what your options are.  A foreclosure defense may be able to help you drive […] Read More

Sleeping Beauty & Adverse Possession

Once upon a time there lived a very lazy princess.  Born of privilege and richly spoiled, the princess never had to do a thing; she was even forbidden to use a spindle lest she should prick her finger.  And so the princess grew up to be a very lazy person indeed. When she came of age to inherit land, her father and mother lavished upon her a huge lot of prime real estate with good fields for growing crops and the finest palace money could buy.  The princess was very beautiful, but she was so lazy, she fell asleep and did not pay her property tax.  Indeed, she took such a long nap that weeds and brambles grew up around the place, and it appeared vacant and unkempt. Along came a land pirate who spied the fields of good soil.  He put up his own fences, started paying property taxes on the land, and began turning a fine profit on the fertile fields.  He knew nothing of the beautiful princess who was asleep inside the palace. The land pirate had been living there and working the fields and paying taxes on the land when one day a big storm drove […] Read More