Squatters are descending on Tarrant County, Texas, in their droves in order to take advantage of a unique loophole in Texan law that is allowing them to set up shop in some of the most luxurious and prestigious properties in the county, reports the Associated Press.
So many squatters have moved into the county in recent months that the phenomenon prompted a study by the local Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper revealed that squatters have taken over homes in Tarrant County worth a total value of more than $8 million.
The squatting problem, according to Associated Press, is because Texas law allows individuals to claim any vacant property provided there is no owner around to challenge their claim. All they have to do is file an adverse possession affidavit with the local county clerk, pay the $16 fee and swear to live in the home for the next three years.
This has resulted in squatters targeting homes that lie vacant for all sorts of reasons, such as homes where the owners have passed away, and even properties where the owners are just living out of state temporarily.
One shocked homeowner in Houston revealed how they returned home after receiving chemotherapy treatment, only to find squatters had taken over their home and thrown all their belongings away. Another property that stands out is a mansion valued at $2.7 million, which has been claimed by a 28-year old insurance agent from Memphis, Tennessee, after lying vacant for two years. A local real estate company had been attempting to sell the mansion after it was foreclosed on last January by the Chase Bank, when the squatter moved in last August.
The real estate agents trying to sell the property attempted to have the female squatter evicted from the mansion, but she responded by calling the cops and claiming “adverse possession”, and saying that they had no right to evict her from the home.
Bank of America, who own the property, are now attempting to have the squatter’s affidavit dismissed, but in the meantime have had to stop marketing the property, Associated Press reports.