An Old Law Presents New Problems for FL Homebuyers

By: Timothy McFarlin | Published: August 9th, 2010 | Category: Foreclosure Issues

Those trying to purchase foreclosed homes in Florida are encountering a snag in the system due to a law, centuries old. This law enables companies to take advantage of homebuyers and is only recently, being addressed. SavingPalm Beach Homes, Inc., for instance, owns not one home code, yet utilized the old law to seize foreclosed homes in Palm Beach and Broward counties (in Florida).

During today’s times and ailing market, such transactions have flown under the radar as foreclosed homes’ rights of ownership, more often than not, get lost in the shuffle. The law, known as “adverse possession,” gives way for anyone to file a claim of ownership on a property, then later, try to obtain permanent ownership—which is legally (due to this old law) possible after maintaining and living in the property for seven years; this includes both paying taxes and caring for the property itself.

The old and archaic law was introduced many hundreds of years ago. Back then, property-related records and documents were lost, destroyed or mishandled. By allowing for “adverse possession,” land and properties were continuously used even when ownership was not recorded or owners themselves, simply, passed away without leaving their property to anyone. Today, the law is seldom used in small property line disputes.

In April of this year, the Broward County State Attorney’s Office charged SavingPalm Beach Homes, Inc. with one count of “organized scheme to defraud over $20,000 for allegedly renting out six properties” they never actually owned.
SavingPalm claimed “adverse possession” on nearly dozens of homes throughout Broward County and has since time, withdrawn these claims.

If found breaking the old law, the sentence may include up to 15 years in prison.

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