Thanks to a little-known Texas law, a man found an abandoned $300,000 home, moved his stuff in and filled out some paperwork. It cost him $16. Now, apparently he’s a homeowner.
On June 17, Kenneth Robinson moved into a $330,000 home in an upscale neighborhood in Flower Mound, Texas. Except, instead of going through a bank, wading through the mortgage process and making a down payment, Robinson went to the Denton County Courthouse and filled out a form. The house he was after was abandoned, and the mortgage company went out of business. So after months of research, Robinson took advantage of a Texas law called “adverse possession.” All he had to do was print out an online form and for a $16 fee was granted rights to the house.
While it has no electricity or running water, Robinson has moved a few things in and is living, well, a bit uncomfortably it appears. But Robinson told WFAA News8 that he has exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner because he has his possessions in the home. And Robinson said that if the owner wants him to leave, he would have to pay off the rest of his mortgage debt as well as file a lawsuit to kick him out.
Robinson’s new neighbors, however, aren’t being hospitable, with one referring to him as a squatter. “If he wants the house, buy the house like everyone else had to,” said one neighbor.
But Robinson plans to stay, and after three years, he said, he can ask the court for the title.
“I want to be the owner of record,” Robinson told WFAA. “At this point, because I possess it, I am the owner.”
Josh Sanburn is a reporter-producer for Moneyland. He joined TIME in August 2010 as a writer-reporter for the Briefing section, writing for the World, Milestones and Economy pages as well as contributing articles for the Culture section, TIME.com and NewsFeed. Sanburn graduated from Indiana University, where he was editor in chief of the Indiana Daily Student, and soon became an editorial assistant for Time Inc.’s Custom Publishing department. He later worked as an assistant editor for Golf Magazine and as a freelance writer for New York magazine. Sanburn studied international relations at the graduate level at New York University while interning at the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Policy Journal. He now knows how to balance his budget.