You gotta love this story out of Tarrant County, Texas, as relesed by The Associated Press and rehashed in the Daily Realtor Magazine news feed.
Squatters in Texas are taking advantage of a loophole in state laws in Texas to move into $Million+ mansions. According to the story written by Yamil Berard which appeared on the Star-Telegram Web site on December 4, Texas state law allows squatters to claim property if no owner is around to challenge them. Texas squatters are apparently targeting vacant properties where owners have died or home owners are away because of a job or even illness. The story referrenced one incident in Houston, in which squatters threw away the owner’s belongings in a commercial garbage bin and moved in while the home owner was having chemotherapy (probably in a hospital).
According to the article. the laws in Texas allow a person to file a claim of adverse possession on the properties with the county clerk., much as one might do on a piece of disputed land or right-of-way in most states. The filing fee is a modest $16 and the filer must sign a pledge to keep the place up to pay property taxes and to live there for at least three years. Heck, why not, it's free!
Perhaps Texas, rather than California, is leading the nation this time on the housing front. What a great opportunity to solve the homelessness problem. Basically, if ever state had laws like Texas, the homeless could not only find housing, but they could live in the lap of luxury by squatting in vacant mansions.
Of course, we’d likely have to change the real estate model a bit. Maybe we could become “spotters” for vacant properties for some sort of fee. We’d have a list of homeless people (or maybe just people looking for a move up the real estate ladder) that we could keep an eye out for vacant homes. Apparently in Texas the owners don’t have to be gone that long, just gone and not around to contest the occupancy of their property. So, we could be on the look-out for people going on vacation and, BAM! We move a new family right into the house while they are vacationing on a cruise.
You’ve got to love the state that gave us George W. Bush and, now Rick Perry. In this case they are so far ahead of the rest of us in solving the housing problem for all Americans. Heck, this would even let us recapture the glory days of the early 2000’s – no money, no job, no problem, let us find you a place to squat. We could even run ads modeled upon the Publishers Clearing House ads - "Be on the lookout for the Squat Patrol coming to your neighborhood soon."