The curious case of Loki Boy (aka Andre Barbosa aka "a living beficiary of the Divine Estate"), who provided us with much amusement earlier this year, has resulted in the enactment of legislation in The Boy's state of Florida that aims to put a damper on those who, rather than give Big Banks a standing ovation, prefer to provide them a squatting one.
Anyone hoping to claim any one of thousands of foreclosed homes in Florida through adverse possession -- simply squatting on the land for several years to obtain title to the home -- are out of luck. Florida just changed its law to prohibit "acquiring title to real property by possession."
Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law June 28, effective July 1, after a push mainly from a community of 106 homeowners who were appalled that Andre "Loki Boy" Barbosa moved into a multi-million dollar Boca Raton home overseen by their Golden Harbour Homeowners Association and refused to leave citing squatters rights, reported the Sun-Sentinel.
The linked story discusses other states, like New York and Washington, which have also updated their laws to make it harder for "Those Who Squat" to grab themselves a piece of the American Dream by adverse possession. It also relates incidents in a number of other states, including two near and dear to me, Colorado and Texas, where squatters have ben dealt with adult gloves. Yet, the story finishes with a squatter who beat the odds.
But some squatting stories do end up in home ownership. Just ask Steve DeCaprio who never bought his house, but he did invest thousands of dollars into repairing its roof, upper level, and other parts of the dilapidated interior and exterior. DeCaprio spent more than a decade living in the home in a poor neighborhood in West Oakland until adverse possession kicked in.
Back on that first day, DeCaprio simply rode his bike up to an abandoned house in Ghost Town, in a neighborhood dotted with vacant lots. He cut through the rusty lock on the chain-link fence with bolt cutters, then pried open a plywood sheet that stood where the front door once had. Then he replaced the locks with his own, reported the Utne Reader. The last owner had passed away and no heirs had claimed the property, which had fallen into disrepair of several years.
DeCaprio called it the "holy grail of squatting." The police, citing criminal law, said he was trespassing. The police kicked him out, not once, not twice, but six times. Yet DeCaprio didn't give up. He kept returning, even after the city welded the doors shut and glued the locks. One time, DeCaprio said, the police arrived with guns drawn.
DeCaprio was arrested, had a trial, and was convicted on three counts of "unlawful entry into a residence." The judge, he said, called him "arrogant." But today, after his persistence, he can call himself a homeowner. Perhaps the trick to winning this battle, is to pick an inexpensive home in a poor neighborhood with no known heirs, rather than try to stake out a million-dollar home with a neighborhood watch association and a bank with money and power to kick you out.
If Steverino had devoted as much time and effort to earning a living and saving for a downpayment as he did consistently fighting eviction proceedings and criminal charges, he might have been able to "afford" a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood. Then again, that process wouldn't have been nearly as much fun for a member of a generation that is so imbued with a sense of entitlement that it thinks it ought to be handed the keys to a house for no other reason than he or she desires it.