Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WFLA story on adverse possession nightmare - well done, but prejudicial

http://brandonnews2.tbo.com/content/2011/mar/21/MENEWSO16-after-expensive-battle-woman-regains-her/

Steve Andrews of WFLA:

I saw your story linked above about Danuta Brown regaining her house through a lawsuit from Yvette Swain whom Chris McConald's Chateau Lan had put into it through adverse possession.

You picked precisely the right story to stir people up against adverse possession.  A beautiful svelte blonde homeowner with a European accent, heartbroken over the filthy mess Swain, a fat black woman, had left the wake of her forced eviction.  And opportunist McDonald, a black man, disclaiming all responsibility for the mess AND for putting Swain in the place.  And you end with the hint that the sheriff will bring those black perps to justice.

That story stirred ME up, and I understand the adverse possession far better than most.

For example, I know that most vacant homes became vacant because owners abandoned them, intending never to return to them, rent them or sell them, because they know they will lose the realty to foreclosure sale.  Most of those houses sit empty for months if not years.  You failed to tell about the recent US Census report that 1.6 million Florida homes (18%) stand abandoned right now, mostly because of foreclosure.  And all those families who left the abandoned homes have to live somewhere.

Your story has surely made viewers see black people as opportunistic, cavalier interlopers who use adverse possession to steal and abuse nice houses in fine neighborhoods where they would never otherwise have the money to live.

And it made viewers feel that when fat black females rent a nice house they will make it filthy and trashy.

Guess what?  You probably have a good point.  The vast majority of extremely low-income, usually not very bright people can never live in a nice house, not for longs, for they generally will mess it up while living in it and not have the money or energy to fix it up, so it will deteriorate through hopelessness of the occupant.  And America has about 75 million not very bright (below 85 IQ)  inhabitants.  Roughly 33 million white, 19 million black, and 23 million non-white Hispanics, by my calculations, don't have the cognitive ability to graduate from high school.  They probably live pretty messed-up lives because they make notoriously wrong decisions.

So, renters make messes in ALL houses, not just nice houses in nice neighborhoods.  Inferior people usually make a mess of things.

And they seemingly NEVER have the money to pick up and move elsewhere, except into a mess similar to the one they left.  Typically they leave only under force, and they always leave the place filthy because they haven't the time, inclination, or money  to clean it up.  Besides, they feel angry over having to leave.  And all their friends and family advise them to milk the situation for all they possibly can.

Seemingly.

Why seemingly?  Because you never hear anything shocking and disgusting about those renters or squatters who clean the place up before they leave.  Nobody has a complaint about them, so you won't know about it.

Thus, I would accuse you of intentionally biding your time till you found one flagrant, outrageous example of abuse of the adverse possession system and of an innocent victim homeowner.  Except I know it's hard to find stellar examples of adverse possessors doing it the right way, and checking up on occupants to make sure they keep the place clean.

Now, I want to point some things out to you that you ought to reveal in your reports.

To begin with, most renters leave a place messy and run out without paying the last month's rent.  For that reason, landlords charge first, last, and security deposit.  Many people simply cannot afford that much money to move in, so impoverished people have to find another solution for living quarters.

People doing adverse possession face an even worse situation because they have sheriffs chasing them down to arrest them for fraud and theft.  And most put people in the house for relatively little money.  Some who move into the house themselves get harassed by police.  Derrick Hannah got arrested in Lakeland (Polk County) while trimming the bushes at his AP house.  Roosevelt Mitchell, a pastor and former deputy sheriff, got arrested for criminal mischief, apparently for painting an abandoned, run-down house he adversely possessed in Marion County.

Furthermore, as the Danuta Brown case proves, the law makes Adverse Possession a civil, not a criminal matter.  Brown handled it correctly.  She sued, got a judgment and writ of possession, and the sheriff evicted the occupant.  That's the way it should happen. 

I believe she should go back to court and sue McDonald and Swain jointly and severally for her damages, including legal fees, clean up costs, damage repairs, and Brown's time and labor.  I consider it inexcusable that Swain let the house go to pot the way she did.

McNair told me he knows this type of situation is a problem, so he gets a crew to mow the grass and handle repairs on the houses he adversely possesses.  He knows the members he puts into the houses sometimes will have trouble meeting his standards of occupant care for houses, but people come to him because they need a place to live that they can afford.   He charges about 875 to get into the house, and 375 a month plus HOA dues and 1/12 of the taxes.  Of the 375, 175 goes to maintenance costs.

Now that you have made a one-sided story showing how people leave the house nasty and how it cheats and injures beautiful blonde European immigrants, maybe you can do a story showing all the good it does for communities.

I realize that AP attracts charlatans just like government does, say to the sheriff and police departments (to write fraudulent affidavits), but some of the APers probably try to do good for everyone concerned.

Read the list of benefits below and see if you don't agree.

Look at the 60 minutes CBS interview with homeless kids all around the state of Florida, and see if you don't think AP can help solve their problem.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/06/60minutes/main20038927.shtml

Sure, you could call a lot of homeless families trailer trash.  Many never knew how to care for a home properly and never will. 

Many others, however, have suffered terribly from the financial crisis which, according to the report at http://fcic.gov (which you never mention), the government and finance industry caused.  That crisis destroyed jobs, created runaway inflation (seen the price of gold and oil lately?), stole homeowner equity, and bankrupted good, wholesome families. 

Those kinds of people will take good care of an AP home.  Why don't you spend a little time looking for some of them?  Maybe Joel McNair can help you.931-737-7919 joel@mcnair.com.

No, I have no business affiliation with him, and I never heard of him till the Tampa Trib wrote about his arrest.  I read his program documents, analyzed the sheriff's fraudulent affidavits of probable cause that led to his arrests, and discussed the issues at length with him.  I'd like to interview some of his "members."  Wouldn't you?


--

Bob Hurt, Concerned Bob Hurt        My Blog
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Clearwater, FL 33763
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Benefits of Adverse Possession

Adverse Possession Benefits -
An Overview


Adverse Possession Operates As A Civil Right


Adverse Possession means exercising possessory dominion over realty you don't own. Possessory dominion means enjoying the use of the realty, and maintaining, improving, and paying taxes, Home Owner Association dues, and special levies on it.


Black's Law Dictionary, Eight Edition, defines it this way:


adverse possession. 1. The use or enjoyment of real property with a claim of right when that use or enjoyment is continuous, exclusive, hostile, open, and notorious. • In Louisiana, it is the detention or enjoyment of a corporeal thing with the intent to hold it as one's own. La. Civ. Code art. 3421. — Also termed adverse dominion. Cf. PRESCRIPTION(5). [Cases: Adverse Possession 1–95. C.J.S. Adverse Possession §§ 2–225, 263–299, 327–338; Conflict of Laws § 76.]


Adverse Possession operates as a civil right under the laws of every state, and it puts disputes over possessory dominion in civil, not criminal, jurisdiction.


Florida Adverse Possession Law


The governing statutes in Florida: 95.12-95.281 (principally 95.16 and 95.18) and chapter 82.  After exercising adverse possession for the statutory period (seven years in Florida), the adverse possessor achieves full possessory right of the realty, even though title belongs to the owner of record. An adverse possessor must then sue for quiet title. The court will grant it if the adverse possessor fully complied with the relevant law.

Florida Statutes 760.51 and 16.57 provide an avenue to relief and remedy for violation of the associated right plus the right to due process of law and privacy guaranteed by Florida Constitution in Article I Sections 9 and 23.




Who Benefits from Adverse Possession? Everybody


Many benefits accrue from adverse possession to:
  • owners who have abandoned their homes,
  • foreclosure plaintiffs,
  • the realty itself,
  • the community,
  • the municipality and county, and
  • the adverse possessor or the occupant of the abandoned home

How Does Everyone Benefit from 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.

19. Homes for the Homeless. The 2010 Census report revealed that Florida has 1.6 million (18%) vacant dwellings. Many of these fall into the category of "abandoned." The people from those vacant dwellings have to live somewhere. Most went to live with friends, relatives, or in homeless shelters, government subsidized housing, in sleazy motels, or in campers. In these places, families cannot easily provide the security they could give in their own homes. Adverse Possession provides a means to house these people without expense to government.


Sheriffs Arrest Adverse Possessors In Spite of Benefits


As insane as it seems, and in spite of the obvious benefits above, some county sheriffs try to destroy adverse possessors by arresting them for trespass, burglary, breaking and entering, fraud, and theft. This does immense harm to everyone above who benefits from adverse possession, particularly the adverse possessor and the county budget for law enforcement. When will the sheriffs every come to understand that the constitutions and laws acknowledge and protect adverse possession as a civil right?


Become ACTIVE in protesting the criminal behavior of sheriffs for persecuting adverse possessors and the occupants of the adversely possessed realty. Demand a halt to the fraudulent arrests and persecutions.

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