Could Texas law net someone a $300,000 house for filing a $16 fee on line? Maybe. Kenneth Robinson told WFAA-TV he moved into the house at 2205 Waterford Drive on June 17 because it had the perfect storm: the home was abandoned for foreclosure, then the mortgage company that owned it went out of business. After researching a Texas law called “adverse possession” Robinson moved in. It’s not a normal process, he admitted to WFAA-TV, but a process that is not known to many people.
Robinson claims he filled out an online form and then filed it at the Denton County courthouse for $16. This gives him rights to the house, which was abandoned due to a foreclosure. Now he is claiming ownership.
He allowed WFAA reporters inside: the house is virtually empty, with just a few pieces of furniture. Oh and Robinson has not yet turned on utilities, at least as of the report so there is no running water or electricity.
(Wonder how he’s flushing toilets?)
The neighbors on this pretty little street took note when he moved in without the usual sale or, I guess, moving van.
“What paperwork is it and how is it legally binding if he doesn’t legally own the house?” said Leigh Lowrie, a neighboring resident. “He just squats there.”
Lowrie says the house was in foreclosure for more than a year and the owners walked. Then, the mortgage company went out of business. Neighbors are naturally peeved that this guy may net a home scot-free.
Robinson claims Texas law gives him exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner because he has set up camp in the home. If the owner wants him out, he would have to first pay off his mortgage debt and the bank would have to file a “complicated lawsuit.” An underwater, likley bankrupt ex-homeowner is probaby not going to do that. Robinson says the law says if he stays in the house, after three years he can ask the court for the title.
When neighbors complained about Robinson’s takeover to law enforcement, they were informed that it was a civil matter and they were unable to intervene.
I called one title attorney on this case who did not wish to comment on the record. But he told me he seriously doubted that Robinson will get ownership of this home, but he may get a free place to live for several months. The owner of the home will be whoever acquires the assets of the defunct mortgage company, but that company will have to re-group and take legal action against Robinson. And that could take months.
But hey, if my source is wrong, and Ronbinson nets himself a $300,000 home for $15, I’m grabbing my sleeping bag and heading to the courthouse!
What do you think?