A $2.5 million South Florida mansion has been taken over by a crafty squatter and the police are powerless to order an eviction.
The 7,500 square-foot residence in Boca Raton, Fla., is currently being inhabited by Brazilian national André Barbosa. The 23-year-old is using an antiquated legal covenant called “adverse possession” that allows a vacant property’s title to be acquired by anyone openly occupying and maintaining the site and paying real estate tax for seven years.
“Nobody’s happy – we all spent a lot of money to live on this street,” a neighbor told ABC News. “This guy is trying to pull something.”
However, Bank of America, which foreclosed on the property at 580 Golden Harbour Drive in July, has now issued a legal challenge to eject Barbosa as well as collect $15,000 in legal fees and compensation.
The five-bedroom waterfront home had sat unoccupied for around 18 months before the current “tenant” took possession and filed papers to contend ownership at Florida’s Property Appraisers Office. Barbosa, who goes by the nickname “Loki boy,” posted a signed copy of his legal claim in the front window of the house, according to the Florida Sun Sentinel.
Cases of adverse possession being used by squatters to acquire real estate have spiked since the economic downturn. A total of 38 such claims have been made to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser over the past three years, reports the Palm Beach Post.
However, American judges aren’t always sympathetic to adverse possession claimants. David Cooper, 26, was found guilty of burglary and theft in Tarrant County, Texas, in November after he tried to use the law to take ownership of a $400,000 house in North Arlington.