Sunday, February 3, 2013

S. Florida County Official Calls For End To State Adverse Possession Law; Points To Recent Bogus Crackpot Claims On Temporarily Unoccupied Homes To Justify Changes

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:

  • The attempted takeover of a $2.5 million Boca Raton mansion using an obscure real estate law now has copycat cases — including one involving a $4.6 million oceanfront mansion complete with tennis court and pool.

    Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish — whose office accepted three more filings for "adverse possession" Tuesday — said she's had enough.

    She's started asking the area's state legislators to strike the law from the books, once and for all. "It's not a 21st century law — they ought to abolish it," Parrish said, pointing out that it was passed when Florida was vast swaths of agricultural land that sometimes fell into disuse.
  • Parrish says that in most cases — and Broward now has 22 of them — the filing is not worth the paper it's printed on, particularly in one case of a filing on a beach house that is not in foreclosure.

    "Why should someone take possession of a house that money isn't even owed on?" she said. "What this is doing is legitimizing breaking and entering."
  • A Sun Sentinel investigation found that in Broward County in April, there were an estimated 8,000 dormant foreclosure cases in which there had been no movement for 120 days or more. In Palm Beach County at the same time, about 7,100 foreclosure actions showed no activity for a full year.

    But one of Broward's most recent adverse possession cases, at 1333 N. Atlantic Blvd., is not part of that backlog. It's for sale and it's empty.

    So someone named Tommie L. Milton Jr. filed an adverse possession form on the 4-bedroom oceanfront home that's listed for $4.6 million.

    Milton did not return a call seeking comment. But he was caught by police on the property on Friday, the day after he filed for adverse possession, according to Mila Schwartzreich, co-counsel for the property appraiser.

    Fort Lauderdale attorney Max Hagen, who represents the property owner, said he would have needed to file a civil suit to eject Milton — if he hadn't been caught. A security guard has since been posted at the home, Hagen said.

    For Property Appraiser Parrish, this case is another indication of just how absurd adverse possession is. "In 1876, it served a purpose it doesn't serve in 2013," said Parrish, who said her own neighborhood was bedeviled by a squatter. "Why should people have to spend money on asserting their property rights because of an antiquated law that doesn't belong on the books?"
For the story, see Broward Property Appraiser moves to repeal squatting law ("Loki Boy" copy cats bedevil Broward County).

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