Tawanna Leven Forbes
Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys:
Tawanna, I write as a citizen of Florida and law researcher/writer. See http://bobhurt.com and http://bobhurt.blogspot.com. I have no business or financial interest in writing to you, but I do have a critically important matter to bring to your attention.
Joel McNair (60) of Sarasota functions as a model for Black Men and Boys in his economic ministry to Florida's homeless families.
As a Realtor, he knew of thousands upon thousands of vacant homes which owners in the throes of foreclosure had wantonly abandoned. Some had sent empty and neglected for years, encouraging burglary, vandalism, and pestilence while reducing communities' overall attractiveness and realty values.
Mr. McNair studied the adverse possession law as a way of getting families who need a place to live into nice abandoned homes in decent communities ADFFORDABLY. He put together some investment money, hired a crew, set up a membership program to stay clear of Landlord-Tenant laws, and began taking Adverse Possession of homes as enshrined in the common law of England and Florida Statutes 95.12-31. He cleaned up the properties, filed notices of AP with County Property Appraisers, cleared up any back taxes, and helped families move in.
Mr. McNair did not rent or lease to them. He simply guarantees them that if they pay their monthly dues and maintenance fees, plus Home Owner Association dues and a twelfth of the property tax, he would provide them with a home to live in, and he would deal with the government. All of his members know he has taken adverse possession and might have to move if an owner makes trouble.
Mr. McNair now has upward of 100 families in his AP homes. No foreclosure plaintiffs have complained about his members living in the homes. Normally, the rightful owners who abandoned the properties don't cause trouble on their own volition. Everybody seems happy.
Except for the Sheriffs of the counties he operates in, right now Sarasota, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Pasco. In November and December the Sarasota Sheriff accused Mr. McNair of grand theft and scheme to defraud and arrested him twice, costing him $12,000 in bailbond fees and nearly a month in jail that he will never get back. Mr. McNair had gone to the Sarasota Sheriff Office in November. Deputies interviewed him for 2+ hours, and they recorded it. He explained his program and his compliance with the law fully. 2 days later they arrested him.
In my recent research, I have learned of several AP'ers in Pasco and Polk Counties whom Sheriffs have arrested in the past couple of months. Sheriffs charge them variously with trespass, burglary, fraud/swindle, grand theft, and scheme to defraud. I learned that deputies have gone on a witch hunt, talking to Mr. McNair's members and asking whether they want to file a complaint against him. This of course intimidates the members, and some have stopped paying dues/fees, making it difficult for Mr. McNair to expand the operation and help other families. I just learned that deputies receive information about AP'ers from the County Property Appraisers and then go arrest them on false charges. Some have simply gone down the list of members that Mr. McNair provided in his interview with the SSO, and engaged in a program of harassment of the members, sometimes as late as 10 PM, in some kind of storm trooper tactic.
I learned that Mr. McNair talked with Hillsborough Deputy Supulveda today for over an hour. The deputy admitted to the things I have said above. To Me that means Hillsborough's Sheriff intends to arrest McNair soon.
Furthermore, I examined the probable cause affidavits, interviews, and arrest warrants the SSO used against Mr. McNair, and I found numerous earmarks of fraud by deputies, intentionally contrived to obtain a fraudulent arrest warrant. To me this means the SSO has an intensely political agenda, and the Sheriff intends to destroy Mr. McNair and his family-homes program. I documented my findings here:
Frankly, Tawanna, I don't want to see a man of the grace and selflessness of Joel McNair, a model of propriety in keeping with the Concil's standards, suffer unwarranted persecution that will crush him and shatter his family-homes program.
While Mr. McNair might have the money for a powerful defense attorney, the Sheriffs of Florida seem to have united in an effort to destroy all adverse possession efforts. Nobody can stand alone against such persecution. Nor should anyone have to. In the case of Mr. McNair, the Sheriff's seem to follow some unwritten law against "HELPING HOMELESS FAMILIES WHILE BLACK." Because of the scope of Mr. McNair's efforts and progress, he has become the poster child of government persecution of adverse possessors.
I have an idea that YOU could help out in this situation, easily. In accordance with Florida Statute 16.01, the Attorney General can issue advisory opinions to government.
(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, shall, on the written requisition of the Governor, a member of the Cabinet, the head of a department in the executive branch of state government, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, or the Minority Leader of the Senate, and may, upon the written requisition of a member of the Legislature, other state officer, or officer of a county, municipality, other unit of local government, or political subdivision, give an official opinion and legal advice in writing on any question of law relating to the official duties of the requesting officer.
You might know of some way to get the AG to write an opinion on the right acknowledge by the AP laws and how they put questions of possesssion of realty in civil, not criminal, jurisdiction. I believe Sheriffs should tell complainers that the rightful owner can sue for a writ of ejectment or possession because AP is a civil, not a criminal matter, and trespass, burglary, and related laws have no nexus to adverse possession. The A.G should suggest that Sheriffs stop wasting county money persecuting AP'ers
Ths approach has a major advantage to court action. To begin with, it costs NOTHING, and the courts already have serious financial and schedule problems. Second, it controls ALL Sheriffs in Florida in one fell swoop, rather than circuit by circuit or county by county. Third, the persecution destroys the lives and finances of AP'ers and their members, all of whom have suffered enough hardship at the hands of government (read the report at http://fcic.gov).
Or, you might refer this matter to the Statewide Prosecutor with the recommendation that he take the rogue sheriffs and their minions to task for racketeering and fraud on the courts.
Mr. McNair seems in good spirits, but I fear for his safety. Letting some pitbull sheriff destroy him would strike a fell blow to the aims of the Council. You can contact him here:
See my comments about the benefits of Adverse Possession, below.
Thank you sincerely on behalf of the homeless families of Florida,
Many benefits accrue to owners who have abandoned their homes, foreclosure plaintiffs, the realty itself, the community, the municipality and county, and the occupant of the abandoned home in adverse possession:
1. Loving Care. A family who lives in the Realty dwelling treats it like their home, caring for it as they would their own in the hope that someday it will become theirs permanently.
2. Mold and Mildew. Adverse possessors typically keep the air conditioning system running summer and winter. This prevents dangerous buildup of mold and mildew that excessive humidity would cause if the A/C didn't operate for extended time. As you know, mold constitutes a serious danger to health.
3. Pestilence. Adverse possessors typically keep the dwelling free of termites, roaches, bedbugs, spiders, centipedes, rodents and other vermin that constitute a health hazard to humans and that actually damage the dwelling, often necessitating costly repairs.
4. Druggies. Adverse possessors prevent drug dealers, marijuana grower, cocaine/crack/crystal meth addicts and other ne'er-do-wells from partying in and damaging the dwelling from neglect.
5. Thieves. An unoccupied house often falls prey to thieves who steal appliances, plumbing fixtures, doors, window coverings, copper wiring and plumbing, and flooring. It costs the owner a fortune to replace these and put the house in condition suitable for selling it. Adverse possessors prevent thieves from stealing those things.
6. Vandals. Vandals and street thugs often see an unoccupied dwelling as a target of opportunity; they break windows, destroy carpets, urinate or defecate on the floors, break holes in walls, destroy the roof, turn on the water and let water from stopped up sinks flood the floor, jam metal and other objects down into the plumbing, break toilet and sink porcelain, and so on. Cleanup and repair can cost the owner a small fortune. Adverse possessors keep such damage from happening by increasing the vandals' risk of capture.
7. Freezes and Hurricanes. Adverse possessors typically mind the effect of the weather on plumbing and windows. They install protective coverings to prevent violent storms from breaking windows. They wrap water pipes or let outside faucets drip during freezes to keep them from bursting. An unoccupied house gets no such respectful care, and related repairs can become costly.
8. Maintenance. Residential realty always need routine maintenance such as lawn-mowing, hedge-trimming, edging, filling in of holes dug by dogs and other creatures, painting, landscaping, fixing broken windows, and so on..An occupant will typically do all this work, but the owner must pay to have others do it if no occupant lives there.
9. HOA Dues. Adverse possessors must pay Home Owner Association (HOA) dues. The owner must pay them if no adverse possessor lives there. But typically, HOAs lose precious money critical to their operation when people in mortgage foreclosure abandon the homes. Such people stop paying HOA dues and that hurts the community overall, putting the burden of HOA support on the remaining residents.
10. Taxes. Adverse possessors must pay property taxes. The owner must pay them if no adverse possessor lives there. Owners in foreclosure who abandon their realty STOP paying property taxes. Unless the foreclosure plaintiff pays them, the County Tax Collector must go through the trouble of filing a tax lien and auctioning tax lien certificates. An adverse possessor saves the County money by paying the taxes.
11. Property Management. Managing all the above constitutes a significant enterprise of work and attention to duty for the adverse possessor. The associated management fees would similarly tax the rightful owner. The adverse possessor saves the rightful owner from having to pay that cost. The rightful owner wouldn't pay them anyway, and that means the realty would become run-down and ugly.
12. Property Values. Because of the above realities, abandoned residential realty invites wanton damage and undesirable lurkers, makes the neighborhood look deserted and unattractive, and reduces the curb appeal of the community. Therefore, people will not want to live there. That will diminish property values in the community in general.
13. 7-Year Savings. Adverse possessors can pay taxes, homeowner dues, repair, and maintenance costs for up to 7 years, and the rightful owner can, just before the statute of limitations expires, obtain a writ of possession or ejectment from the court, whereupon the sheriff will give notice and remove the adverse possessor. Thus, adverse possession poses no risk to the rightful owner who doesn't sleep on his rights beyond 7 years.
14. Restored Realty Prices. The adverse possessors can end up leaving the Realty AFTER values have returned to their normally ridiculously high values because more people will have jobs and the ability to buy realty.
15. Litigation Risk. It costs an enormous amount of money to litigate against people with respect to questions of Realty ownership and title. Adverse possessors save the rightful owner much of that cost because they admit that they don't have ownership rights until after seven years. On the other hand, an adverse possessor might have profound knowledge of mortgages, lending practices, securitization, and the recent Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report's details about abuse of authority and duty in both government and the lending and securities industries. Such an adverse possessor could assist the prior owner of record in challenging REAL titular interest in the Realty. It could easily cost $100,000 or more in legal fees, and put the foreclosure plaintiff or new owner of record at risk of disgorgement and treble damages, and possibly exorbitant punitive damages in favor of the prior owner of record. Thus the right adverse possessor could have courage to use the courts to attack fraud in the appraisal, loan, mortgage, assignments, securitization, and sale of bonds, and thereby wrest rightful title deservedly from crooked foreclosure plaintiffs. Any harm to crooked foreclosure plaintiffs helps the people of the state.
16. Everybody Wins. Adverse possessors keep the property in good shape, pay taxes and HOA dues, keep the community safer than otherwise, and help to increase property values. I imagine that rightful owners of common sense will see adverse possessors as a boon, not a bane, to the rightful owner, to the adverse possessor's family, to the municipality, to the neighborhood, to the courts, and to law enforcers.
17. Check the Numbers. Examination of home maintenance and cost records typically will reveal that adverse possessors can save the rightful owner and foreclosure plaintiffs an enormous amount of worry and money without putting them you at risk of losing the realty permanently or having to spend substantially on ownership costs.
18. About Possessions Left Behind. A homeowner who abandons the realty and leaves behind precious possessions does so foolishly. That exposes the possessions to loss by theft and vandalism. Owners have the legal duty to protect their possessions, and locking the doors on an abandoned house does not constitute such protection. The conscientious adverse possessor, while disposing of junk left behind, might recognize some items as valuable and keep them safe for the rightful owner, but has no legal duty to do so.