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Squatter hangs on in $2.5M mansion

Bank of America goes to court to evict a Brazilian man who moved into the foreclosed Florida home last summer.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 29, 2013 12:38PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Image: Home Foreclosure (© Dana Hoff/Getty Images/Getty Images)Andre de Paula Barbosa has been living the life, squatting for half a year in a foreclosed Boca Raton, Fla., mansion belonging to Bank of America. Barbosa reportedly has gone to court to claim the house for himself, citing Florida's once-obscure "adverse possession" law.

 

"It's all legal," marveled the "Today" show's Willie Geist, introducing an NBC report on the case.

 

Barbosa's free ride may be over soon. With the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun Sentinel  and other media reporting the case and the bank filing papers in court last week to remove Barbosa, any attempt to assume ownership of the home may be in jeopardy. Bank of America asserts that it is the rightful owner of the home.

 

Squatting to own

Barbosa's story began in July, when the 23-year-old Brazilian man reportedly first entered the home. The 5,624-square-foot dream house was built in 2001 in the Spanish style. It has a spiral staircase, marble floors, gourmet kitchen, five bedrooms and 5 1/2 baths.

 

You'll see photos, a description and a 360-degree shot of the home and its neighborhood here, at Trulia. The mansion, at 580 Golden Harbour Drive in Boca, apparently is not on the market.

 

About Barbosa himself, news reports say little. He apparently has not responded to attempts to interview him.

 

The Sun Sentinel writes:

"Much to the irritation of the neighbors, the home has stood empty for 18 months. Bank of America foreclosed on $2.5 million owed on the house and took possession of it in July, according to county records. And soon after that, Barbosa claimed 'adverse possession' of the house."

The bank wrote to WPTV NewsChannel 5, in West Palm Beach: 

"There is a certain legal process we are required by law to follow and we have filed the appropriate action. The bank is taking this situation seriously and we will work diligently to resolve this matter."

How it works

"Adverse possession is a state law which allows someone to move into a property and claim the title -- if they can stay there seven years," says the Sun Sentinel.

 

Florida's law was meant to help farmers use abandoned land, the station says. Other states have similar laws. A successful claim requires you to maintain the house and pay the property taxes -- $39,200 a year in this case, says NBC.

 

Says WPTV.com:

"'It isn't criminal. At this point it's a civil matter between the owner of the property, who is Bank of America, and the people who are occupying it right now,' said officer Sandra Boonenberg of the Boca Raton Police Department."

Used by left and right

The Utne Reader recounts a recent history of the adverse possession movement on the left end of the political spectrum, telling about Steve DeCaprio, who moved into an abandoned home in Oakland, Calif., and founded a group called Land Action, dedicated to creating "occupations," as he calls them.

"He lived in his house so long that he has gained ownership of it under an obscure law called 'adverse possession,' which allows ownership not through purchase or inheritance (the common paths to homeownership), but through occupation -- provided no one else can prove he or she is the real owner. Adverse possession, DeCaprio says, is the 'holy grail of squatting.'"

On the right, adverse possession is reportedly used by, among others, the sovereign citizen movement. It is classified by the FBI as an "extremist anti-government group," according to the Los Angeles Times

"So-called sovereign citizens argue that they are not subject to local, state or federal laws, and some refuse to recognize the authority of courts or police.

 

"Since 2000, members of the movement have killed six police officers, and clashes with law enforcement are on the rise, according to the FBI. The deadliest incident came in 2010, when a shootout with a member left four people dead, including two police officers, during what began as a routine traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for example, reported, "Federal authorities are seeing an increase in the number of foreclosed and unoccupied homes in metro Atlanta being seized by members of (the) anti-government group."

 

Boca Raton link?

Back in Boca Raton, South Florida's WPBF-TV reporter Terri Parker questions whether there are others behind Barbosa's attempt to take possession of the Spanish-style mansion.

 

Neighbors told the station that another man appeared at the home initially, handing out his business card. Parker says paperwork posted in the home's window linked that man with the sovereign citizen movement.

 

WSVN-TV in Miami-Fort Lauderdale also says that, in paperwork posted in the mansion's window, "Barbosa is claiming to be a sovereign citizen. It's a movement the FBI calls a domestic threat."

 

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39Comments
Jan 29, 2013 2:32PM
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I'm guessing this guy was not paying the $39,000 in property taxes for the house, so I don't see how this law is relevant in this case. Toss him out on his ears! Even if he has, he has not been there 7 years so again, why are we even wasting lawyer fees on this matter?
Jan 29, 2013 1:41PM
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Should go after all of them and shoot them in the head like a worthless zombie that they are. Society would be better off.
Jan 29, 2013 2:11PM
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There's are home near me in foreclosure. So I can move into the house, pay taxes but not pay for the house. In 7 years the house will be mine as long as I can manage the legal cost to stay in the house for 7 years.  So instead of paying for a home for 30 years, I can pay nothing and it mine outright in 7 years. I think our States better do something here:

1) Get rid of this law or revise it so this type of thing can't happen

2) Counties should take over homes if taxes aren't paid starting the first year not paid.

3) Burn these peope out. (best option)

Jan 29, 2013 3:33PM
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If need be, he should be dragged out by his heals.  Just another dirtball looking to get over on society in search of "free stuff".
Jan 29, 2013 2:05PM
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Banks aren't willing to try and keep the current homeowners in homes.  They want to sell homes and get MORE money.  They don't complete the foreclosure so the home stays on the books under the previous owners name, so no taxes are paid.  That makes the Counties to increase taxes for everyone else because they aren't getting all the taxes money they need off the foreclosed homes.  The Banks don't keep property up, creating squatter's paradise, vagrants, drug people going into the homes. I've had to call the police numerous times on a home in my neighborhood.  I wish someone would burn the place down.  It makes it unsafe for other people in the neighborhood.  I think it should be a requirement that PMI not be paid to the Banks unless the foreclosure is totally completed and the Banks are required to pay taxes, upkeep on property, and keep home insurance on the property.  A requirement if the property isn't bought within a year's time, the government should step in and sell the property at a reduced amount.  The Bank should not benefit by the PMI and the resell of the house, and not bearing the cost to keep home up.
Jan 29, 2013 4:17PM
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But wait! What happened to those big liberals who love Illegal Immigrants? Oh! I see! Liberals like Illegal Immigrants, but don't want them living next to their houses. Ah, ha!
Jan 29, 2013 5:42PM
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how the **** did this guy enter the house...by breaking the door or by breaking hte lock. He was tresspadssing and hte police say that this is a civil matter. This is nothing short of a breakin. This guy should be behind bars when the owner of the property is saying that he broke in.
Jan 29, 2013 3:47PM
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So which bureaucratic branch of govmt is in charge of researching and changing obsolete laws?  The state or fed lawmakers need to take responsibility for their negligence and 'fix' what's so obviously broken.  As for this guy, he's not complied with the 'adverse ownership' regulations, so this seems like a waste of cyber journalism.
Jan 29, 2013 4:15PM
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Leave it to a no good sneaky, calculating and devious Brazilian to do something like this. Brazilians are so arrogant and nasty, they think they own the USA. We need to detain and deport all of this trash.
Jan 29, 2013 5:09PM
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He should call Obama, he likes to help out those who are occupying space Illegally.
Jan 29, 2013 2:54PM
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The only reason the bank wants to fight it is because if they don't win the state will take the house for unpaid property taxes.
Jan 29, 2013 6:02PM
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Good, then deport the freeloading parasite.
Jan 29, 2013 4:43PM
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this bum is the lowest of low lifes,  burn the hse down w/ him in it!!!!
Jan 29, 2013 3:34PM
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Well its like this. How many  Bank owed houses that have been repossed are kept up. NONE that i know of.  The banks take possession of these house and they just sit. Even the  realitors’   don't want to spend any money to keep it up while they have it up for sale. They are all like CAR DEALERS that want to get rid of it with out putting any or the least amount of money in it to sell. But if it's on the market longer than they want they need to do some up keep to the place so it looks good in the neighborhood and people looking for a place may want to buy it. Curb Appeal !!!!!! THIS IS WHAT DRAWS SQUATTERS TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD....
Jan 29, 2013 6:05PM
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what do you bet that he's on food stamps as well
Jan 29, 2013 1:38PM
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Newton second law of thermodynamics.
Jan 29, 2013 5:23PM
Jan 29, 2013 2:36PM
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Well...the squatter didn't go incognito very well.  He got all of the elitist liberal *ss-wipe housewives holding their foo-foo dogs, looking out of their kitchen windows, being the nosey-nellies that they are, gossiping about "there's that car again," involved.  He was probably having too many people coming over.  Dum-bazz.....
Jan 29, 2013 11:07PM
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Why doesn't the bank just charge him with trespassing and have the police remove him?   After all, it is private property.
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