A $330,000 home for only $16
In an upscale neighborhood in Flower Mound, Texas near Dallas, a man is living inside a home after filing a $16 form at the Denton County courthouse.
Waterford Drive is a neighborhood of luxury homes in the $300,000 range which for Texas is a considerably higher price point than the median (here are the recent listings in Flower Mound for reference).
Homeowner walks away leaving it vulnerable
Neighbors say the house was in foreclosure for over a year when the owner finally walked away from the home. When the mortgage company went under, it left the vacant property vulnerable to what Kenneth Robinson refers to as the “adverse possession,” a law he cites as giving him rights to live in the home where he has been since June 17.
Robinson says he is not a squatter, rather his internet research led him to a form he could fill out and file at the County, a process he claims is completely legal and “not normal” but notes that just because it isn’t common knowledge doesn’t mean it isn’t legal.
No electricity, no water, a three year loophole
The form he filed with the County says the home was abandoned and he is claiming ownership of the house despite having no electricity or running water, but a few of Robinson’s pieces of furniture and “some things here for my own protection,” he said.
Robinson claims the presence of his belongings gives him exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner, according to Texas law and if the owner wants him out, he would have to pay his mortgage in full and the bank would have to file a “complicated lawsuit,” neither of which Robinson believes is likely.
Texas law does state that if he stays in the house he can petition for ownership in three years, possibly obtaining the full title free and clear which is Robinson’s goal.
Why police cannot step in
Neighbors called police to arrest Robinson for breaking in, but he claims he “found” a key to the house and legally entered. Police said they cannot remove him from the house because ownership is a civil, not criminal matter.
Robinson has posted “no trespassing” signs saying “at this point, because I possess it, I am the owner.”
Intending to live mortgage free
Neighbors continue to seek out legal ways to remove Robinson or petition that he pays for the house like any other owner. They have sought counsel from the mortgage company that folded, local Realtors as well as attorneys as they believe he broke into the house, invalidating the loophole currently allowing him to live mortgage-free in the home.
Robinson says he will not buy anything or pay a dime, as the $330,000 house is already his because of his $16 courthouse document. It is unclear how he will be held responsible for taxes in this property tax state should he ultimately gain the title to the property, and with heightened awareness by local news, it is possible an attorney will find a loophole to the loophole, but property rights and squatting in Texas is a more complicated matter than in many states.
July 18, 2011 at 10:05 am
All anyone has to do is to dangle some money in front of this man and I'm sure he will accept it and move on if that's what everyone wants, otherwise, if the form he completed is legal then he should be left alone. The only other alternative is for someone to come along and pay all the back property taxes owed/due on this home and then the property legally becomes theirs and then he can be gotten out that way.
July 18, 2011 at 10:38 am
Doesn't one have to pay fair compensation for the home? Personally, I don't think $16 qualifies as fair compensation for a piece of real estate.
Flower Mound Attorney
July 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm
There are many factual issues with this story. First, a $330,000 home in Flower Mound is not a luxury home but middle class. Second, despite what Mr. Robinson claims, he is a squatter not an owner. He may think he has "ownership rights," but until a judge finds that he has established true adverse possession, he has a mere colorable claim. The bank and the original owner are still in preference to Robinson. The neighbors have no standing, unless there is a homeowner's association with unpaid fees. And if Robinson is not paying the property taxes, then the County tax authorities will have preference ahead of Robinson. But, if your intent was to take an oddball case, sensationalize it and make the rest of the country think Texas has weird things happening all the time, nice job.
July 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm
The law is not too subjective. Fair is. Robinson must be quite the wordsmith.
Oh I forgot, remember Brenda Nesslroad Slaby in Clermont County Ohio?
She left her two year old daughter in her car in 90 degree heat while she met with other school administration members for eight hours. Her attorney, R. Scott Croswell, showed that "forgetting" is not against the law. Go figure.
July 19, 2011 at 5:16 am
WRONG!!! Just wait until they don't pay the taxes! He will be out so fast it will make his head spin. He may mess with the home owner but I promise he will not mess with Texas!!!
July 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm
I hope he does get this house, just to put the whole state of Texas in its place!
July 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm
Give him props for working the system. We'd all do that if we could. So maybe the recession has a silver lining for those who have the knowledge. Well, in this case, the lining is probably platinum.
Paul Faulstich III
July 25, 2011 at 10:42 am
The neighbors should be happy. If the owner left and the company went out of business, then no one is left to take care of the house. Were these upset neighbors willing to reach into their pockets to take care of the house? Probably not. Even if he does get kicked out, just consider him a on site property manager until he does. Free rent is pretty cheap compensation for an on site property manager.
August 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm
ROFLMAO! ,,, way 2 go,,, the banks, local, state an fed govs have been sticking it to the little guy for 2 long, its about time,,, what if this was a BANK who moved in would there be such outrage? NO. I think what upsets everyone is the simple fact that.. YOU DIDNT THINK OF THIS FIRST! Jealosy
Carlos D. Garza
December 11, 2015 at 4:01 am
Personally If the house is really lost to a sneaky freeloader then I think the house is better off burning down one way or another.
May 22, 2021 at 4:08 pm
Why are his neighbors such busy bodies? Are they just jealous he was living rent free? Why do they care???