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New Senate Bills Seeks to Prevent Misuse of 1800s Law by Squatters to Steal Property

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Senate Bill 947 has been filed to attempt to stop squatters from using an obscure 1800’s law to lay claim on vacated properties.

The bill would not make squatting illegal, but it would not allow squatters to file “adverse possession” on homes to try and take ownership of property.

The law the squatters are utilizing was enacted to allow homesteaders to keep unclaimed land they worked for years and preventing that land from being snatched out from under them.

Under the legislation squatters would have to prove that they notified the landowner of the property they are attempting to file their affidavit of adverse possession before county clerks could file the affidavit.

The law also makes clear that the affidavit is not a property title.

The hope is to give land owners recourse to protect their property that may not be occupied.

The legislation would prevent cases like that of Kenneth T. Robinson, who took possession of a $340,000 Flower Mound home in 2011 and then went on to give lectures and distribute a manual on how to see property though the law in a manner that law enforcement are calling a scam.

Robinson was evicted a year later when a Judge declared Bank of America the legal owner of the property.

Such evictions take time and during the process the home cannot be sold, as the affidavit clouds who is the owner of the property, and in many cases the squatters trash the property before they can be evicted, leaving the true owner with the expense.

Republican Senator Jane Nelson from Flower Mound sponsored the legislation after a request by Terrant County Constable Clint Burgess to protect property owners and prevent further misuse of the law.

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