The Crazy Law That Lets You Legally Steal Houses

The Crazy Law That Lets You Legally Steal Houses

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There are a lot of things that are illegal
these days -such as piracy, stealing, using public Wi-Fi, sharing passwords, pineapple
on pizza, ok maybe not that last one, but it should be, however that second one most
definitely is. If you get caught stealing something from
someone, sorry but you’re going to jail. That is unless you steal in just the right
way. Yup, you heard that right, there’s technically
a way to steal something and for it to be completely 100% legal. So, what is this thing you can steal? I mean, it’s got to be something small if
you can get away with legally stealing it, right? Is it a candy bar? Nope, sorry, that can get you sent to jail
for up to 6 months in some states and lose you a hand in some countries. Yikes! No, you’ve got to think bigger. Could it be an identity? Nope, jail again! Stealing an identity can get you locked away
for up to 15 years in the US! No, the thing you can legally get away with
stealing is something much, much bigger, and in most cases, much more expensive. Did you guess it? Alright, we’ll tell you. It’s a house! Ok, well actually any type of property holding. That’s right, if you can steal it in just
the right way, you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars and legally be the owner
of a brand-new home! According to laws in England, Wales, and the
United States, who in fact got their earliest laws from England, you can legally become
the owner of someone else’s property entirely through otherwise illegal actions. Now, before you get up and run to California
to try and nab Oprah’s 165-Million-dollar mansion for yourself, you should know that
it isn’t as easy as just getting inside and screaming ‘mine’. There’s actually a lot of time and effort
that goes into stealing someone’s home legally. The laws we’re talking about are commonly
known as “squatter’s rights” but are legally referred to as “Adverse Possession Laws”. In order to claim adverse possession over
a property that isn’t yours, you should know that there are five specific criteria that
have to be met in order for adverse possession to take place. Firstly, the possession must be Hostile. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need
to run up on the property like a supervillain or anything. It just means you’ve gotta be living on the
land without the owner’s permission. Otherwise, that one friend you keep letting
crash on your couch could turn around and claim that your apartment is legally theirs
one day! In all seriousness, this also makes it so
that any tenants renting space or friends openly borrowing the property aren’t able
to claim ownership with adverse possession, because let’s be honest ,that would really
suck! Apart from that, the person claiming squatter’s
right has to be inhabiting the property in a very specific way. The inhabitance must be, and remember these
terms, – Continuous, Open, and Notorious . What Continuous means here is that you have to
continuously live on the property, and nowhere else, for a specific length of time that varies
from place to place. In England, the amount of time is usually
10 years, and in the United States it can range from as little as 5 years in a state
like California, to up to 30 years in a state like Texas or Louisiana. Vacations are usually fine, and you can leave
the property to go to work, run errands or just live your life, so don’t worry about
having to become a complete shut-in for the next 30 years just to get a house. However, if at any time the rightful owner
kicks you out, even if you get back in, your time starts all over again, even if you’ve
already finished 29 of the 30 years you needed. Pretty simple to get around though, right? Just don’t let the owner know you’re there. Oprah’s mansion is enormous, you can definitely
hide in there for just 5 years without being found out right? Well, no actually. And that brings us to the next two conditions,
which make this process a whole lot trickier. You have to live on the property both Openly
and Notoriously for the entire time you live there. What that means is that you can’t be hiding
the fact that you live there, so no hiding in the extra bedroom on the Northern wing. Open and Notorious possession means that’s
the trespasser must be living there clearly and openly in such a way that the real owner,
if they were paying any attention at all, would be able to know that they are there
and kick the would-be claimant to the property out. Sounds like it would be pretty hard to meet
these conditions now, huh? Well, the majority of cases of adverse possession
usually involve properties the owner doesn’t pay much attention to. You could probably find some Saudi Prince’s
10th vacation home in Beverly Hills that fits that criteria. However, just living on the property isn’t
going to be enough for the court to grant you a deed in your name, and this brings us
to the final criterion, which states that the possession must be Actual. This means that the person claiming squatter’s
rights also has to use and maintain the property in the same way the owner would. That means doing things like mowing the lawn,
trimming the hedges, and fixing the golden toilet whenever it clogs, all by yourself. That sounds like it could get expensive, but
it’s still definitely way less than the hundreds of millions that vacation home is worth, or
even the hundreds of thousands an average piece of property would cost you. Think we’re done yet? Not even close. The sixth legal criterion needed to claim
adverse possession states that possession must be exclusive. This means that the person or persons, as
groups of people have been granted deeds through adverse possession many times, through claiming
the property must be the only one utilizing the property. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you can’t have
any visitors or even overnight guests. It simply means that the owner, or a different
claimant, must not live in nor use the property at any time during the period of continuous
inhabitance. If they do use the property at any time, then
sadly the claim is no longer valid, meaning you’ve just wasted many precious years of
your life for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Well, I mean, you did get a free place to
live, so, maybe not NO reason. Just, for no free property. However, if you do somehow manage to live
on a property and meet every legal criteria for the amount of time needed, all you have
to do is file what’s known as a “Quiet Title Lawsuit” against the previous owner, and the
courts will hopefully hand you a deed to the property with your name on it! Enjoy your new mansion!

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