Florida Squatter Andre Barbosa Takes Adverse Possession of $2.5M Mansion in Boca Raton
Andre Barbosa has claimed a $2.5 million mansion in Boca Raton, Florida as his own by squatting.
Andre Barbosa, who is by now famously known as the Florida Squatter, used to live in Pompano Beach and attend South Technical Education Center in Boynton Beach and South Tech Academy in West Palm Beach.
Since the 23-year old moved into the Bank of America owned property with out being seen breaking into the 5-bedroom mansion, the police can't remove him physically.
Sunrise real estate lawyer Gary Singer said Barbosa is invoking a state law called "adverse possession," which allows someone to move into a property and claim the title. That is, if they can stay there seven years and pay the property taxes in that time.
A signed copy of that note is also posted in the home's front window. Next to the signed copy, Florida Squatter Andre Barbosa posted a note naming himself as the “living beneficiary to the Divine Estate being superior of commerce and usury.”
In December of 2012, when Florida Squatter Andre Barbosa received a visit from police officers, Andre Barbosa presented the officers a copy of the adverse possession document. Since no one had ever seem Andre Barbosa breaking into the Florida waterfront mansion or conducting any other illegal business, the police had to leave with no arrest.
Next door neighbor, Lynn Houston said she noticed the lights come on in the home around Christmas time, so she went over and knocked on the door, but no one answered.
"We're all going crazy, trying to figure out what to do," she said. "It's unbelievable that it can be done. Plus, if they've got the balls to break in the house, what's to prevent them from coming over here?"
"This is a very upsetting thing," Houston added. "Last week, I went to the Bank of America and asked to see the person in charge of mortgages. I told them, 'I am prepared to buy this house.' They haven't even called me back."
In a statement, Jumana Bauwens for Bank of America says, "We have been in communication with the Boca Raton Police Department regarding the concerns with the occupants of Golden Harbour Drive property. There is a certain legal process we are required by law to follow and we have filed the appropriate action. The bank is taking this situation seriously and we will work diligently to resolve this matter."
According to one other of Andre Barbosa’s neighbors, he saw at least four other people inside the house besides Andre Barbosa and that one of those people told him that the group was “establishing an embassy for their mission, and that families would be moving in and out of the property.”
Property records show that the house, which was built in 2001, was sold to a family in 2005 for $3.1million. The deed is currently valued at $2.48million. Neighbor Lynn Houston said that the home had been empty for about 18 months. The county appraiser's office lists the total market value of the 7,522-square-foot house at $2.1 million.
According to John Enck, a manager of ownership services at the appraiser's office, over the past 10 years, 13 cases of adverse possession were filed in 2011. It has spiked even more in 2012: 19 cases, but so far, since Oct. 1, only six cases have been filed, he said.
Adverse possession is a principle of real estate law that gives anyone who possesses the land of another for an extended period of time in an 'actual, open, hostile and continuous' manner the right to claim legal title to that land.
"We look at this as another con job, another get-rich-quick scheme," said Don TenBrook, a Broward state prosecutor of economic crimes. "You're starting to see them pop up all over the place. It's been spawned by the real estate crisis."
The exact rules of an adverse possession claim may be different in each state. In Florida, the law prescribes continuous possession of at least seven years.
In New Jersey, a squatter must be in possession of the property for 30 years, while in New York it's 10 years.
In some states, the trespasser must have paid taxes on the property during this time period. Other states don’t require payment of property taxes, but will apply a shorter time requirement for occupying the land if the trespasser has paid taxes.
Time will tell with what will happen to Florida Squatter Andre Barbosa. Meanwhile, he is living large at his $2.5 million waterfront, 5-bedroom, 7,522-square foot home on 580 Golden Harbour Drive in Florida’s Boca Raton.
Florida Man Squats in $2.5 Million Home, Claims 'Adverse Possession'
A Florida man filed papers claiming "adverse possession" to move in for free.