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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?