Florida homes sitting vacant are… reused?
The recent case of Marcellous Dunbar who claimed adverse possession of several homes in Florida ended in Dunbar being charged with grand theft and burglary and was held on a $150,000 bond. A strange loophole in several states’ laws allows people to submit simple paperwork with the state that allows them to live in a vacant home, and if no one claims the home and taxes are paid on it for seven consecutive years (in Florida), it becomes property of the squatter.
Warren Lee Foundation for Veterans?
Now, Jacksonville’s 690 AM station is reporting that a former mayoral candidate in Jacksonville, Florida has claimed four homes through adverse possession, claiming he is doing so as part of the “Warren Lee Foundation for Veterans,” which the station could not verify was actually a legitimate charity.
One of the four homes Lee has occupied is housing a woman who lost her parents, became homeless and approached Lee for help. Program supporters are upset that the home has gone toward a non-veteran which is the point of the charity, but Lee brushes it off as a temporary (six to twelve month) occupation and it will be given to a veteran later.
Neighbors are concerned that HOA fees are not being paid, but Lee tells the radio station that he hopes to soon be in compliance. Lee says that everything he is doing is legal and that he plans on taking adverse possession of more vacant houses.
The rise of squatting – what can be done?
This method of squatting is rising in popularity as it is a very inexpensive way to get a very nice home, given that all someone has to do is pay taxes and with so many banks and title companies going under, these vacant houses are often unclaimed because the note is in limbo for so many years. Neighbors in all of these cases have expressed outrage, but while adverse possession is still legal in some states, the squatting will continue, so residents will have to fight to have the law changed in order to keep vacant homes on their street free of squatters.