When I was studying to take the test to become a realtor, one of the topics that truly interested (and shocked) me was Adverse Possession. According to Nolo:
Legal Requirements for an Adverse Possession Claim to Land
Essentially, one can own a house without paying for it through Adverse Possession.
This activist, Stephen Decaprio, did just that, and is helping other people do the same. He was interviewed by Ashleigh Banfield on CNN. His point of being a better neighbor than an abandoned property is sound.
During the real estate market crash when there were nearly a tsunami of foreclosures, many affecting entire communities, there were several groups that assisted the homeless to move into vacant homes for what was at first intended to be temporary relief and accommodations.
BUT....some groups also intend to teach ways to acquire the homes through adverse possession.
This article "Housing a Movement: Adverse Possession in California" mentions California Civil Code Section 1006 that states "
Occupancy for any period confers a title sufficient against all except the state and those who have title by prescription, accession, transfer, will, or succession; but the title conferred by occupancy is not a sufficient interest in real property to enable the occupant or the occupant's privies to commence or maintain an action to quiet title, unless the occupancy has ripened into title by prescription."
Here's what the adverse possession laws say in the various states: Information on the Law about Adverse Possesion and the Requirements.
I thought that now when the economy is recovering, there will be less attempts by squatters to take over living in properties they don't own. I can understand some of the humanitarian benefits of housing the homeless in abandoned homes....and hoping they will transform the property into something one can be proud of.
But for the squatters to actually break into a well-maintained and staged home that has a for sale sign on it? That's not an attempt for adverse possession. That's malicious and criminal act of breaking and entering. And there's only one place for the culprits to call home: JAIL!