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A squatter in a $2.5 million mansion is trying to assert a claim under Florida law that says the mansion belongs to him. His legal ground: adverse possession.
The man, Andre "Loki" Barbosa, 23, a Brazilian national also known as "Loki Boy," claims that the mansion belongs to him because he was in possession of it for the last six months, ABC News reports.
Under Florida's adverse possession law, a party may acquire title from another by openly occupying that property and paying real estate tax on that property -- but that must happen for a continuous period of at least seven years.
Squatter Andre "Loki" Barbosa will have to fight off a mighty powerful opponent in his adverse possession claim. The current owner of the house is Bank of America.
The Bank took ownership of the house in July 2012. That was around the same time that Barbosa supposedly filed his adverse possession paperwork.
The house isn't legally his. Once he files the adverse possession paperwork, Barbosa actually has to stay in that house for seven years and pay real estate taxes on that house.
But one neighbor told ABC News he thinks something else is going on: A possible attempt to "hold the house ransom" and get some money from the bank, which may have to go through the eviction process to get the squatters to move out.
Adverse possession cases are not that common. But in recent years, with many foreclosed properties popping up, cases are not unheard of in which squatters take possession of a house and show some form of paperwork claiming a legitimate right to be there.
Not everyone understands the law and the process of adverse possession. In some cases, people believe that they can simply move into an empty house and take possession. They believe that once they file an affidavit, they own the house. But that's simply not the case.
So what's the lesson here? While possession is nine-tenths of ownership, the legal road to ownership isn't as easy as filing a piece of paper with the county and claiming you're the owner.
Especially not when the owner is a bank.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.