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article imageJudge rules Texas man has to give up 'ownership' of $16 house

By Leigh Goessl     Feb 6, 2012 in Lifestyle
Flower Mound - Today a Texas judge ruled a man has to give up the 1997-built, two-story, 3,250-square-foot house he took possession of for a mere $16 last summer.
Last July Kenneth Robinson made headlines after he took 'ownership' of the house, which is worth a market price of about $340,000 in the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound. Neighbors were upset he moved in without paying for the property.
His only cost? A $16 filing fee and the time it took him to print off the form online and fill out the county affidavit.
According to NBC News, Robinson had used Texas' Law of Adverse Possession to set up residence in the house.
The original owners to the home walked away once their home went into foreclosure, and the mortgage company subsequently went out of business, and this is where Robinson said he had the right to invoke the unique law.
The Law of Adverse Possession states, "Adverse possession refers to the circumstances under which one may lawfully lay claim to ownership of property not originally one’s own." However, there are specific stipulations to this law which must be followed precisely.
If no one claims ownership within three years, the individual can ask the courts for the title to the property. And if the owner wants an individual out, the mortgage will have to be paid off first.
At least that is how Robinson had interpreted it. At the time he said, according to KHOU, "This is not a normal process, but it is not a process that is not known," he said. "It's just not known to everybody."
Others disagreed. Arlington, Tex. real estate lawyer Grey Pierson told the Associated Press Robinson and others have misconstrued the adverse possession law.
Neighbors were furious and wanted Robinson out because he did not pay for the property, and referred to Robinson as a "squatter." However, authorities said it was a civil issue, not a criminal one which would be categorized as breaking-and-entering. Since last summer, Robinson has stayed in the house.
Now the court has ruled that he must move out. The Star-Telegram reported Robinson was a no-show in eviction court this morning. Neighbors said moving vans were at the Denton County home over the weekend.
The Bank of America holds the title to the house, which sold in early Jan. in foreclosure for more than $400,000, the Star-Telegram reported attorney David L. Ovard said. The judge had told the Bank of America's attorneys they'd have to prove their case, and they did so by handing Judge JW Hand a title to the house.
Robinson has until Feb. 13 to appeal the court's decision, but many suspect he's leaving the neighborhood. The judge ordered him to pay more than $8,000 in bond, based on the value of the house, if he plans to fight the eviction.
Neighbors plan to celebrate once he's gone. "We're going to throw a party," Chris Custard, a neighbor to the property, said. "It's going to be good."
Robinson had a website, called 16dollarhouse.com, but as of this writing, the website is not working correctly. The Star-Telegram reported Robinson was not available for comment, however "during his spate of national press, he said he was merely performing a "real estate transaction"."
Reportedly there have been several other copycat uses of Adverse Possession, but one woman moved into a home that was actually not in foreclosure, and found herself facing criminal charges in Oct. 2011.
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