Friday, January 16, 2015

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Extreme squatting comes to Maryland.

Last year we shared the story out of California involving lawyers complicit in a scheme to push false adverse possession cases through the courts. We concluded that such a scheme would be very difficult to pursue in Maryland because of very different standards for taking property under the law.

But that doesn't rule out the straight "squatter" who takes without permission.

On January 2, 2015, the Daily Record and an ABC News affiliate reported that a man was charged with moving into a home he did not own...with his entire family! He allegedly introduced himself to the neighbors, and was unpacking the van when the true owner arrived to find the invaders in the driveway.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Jan. 24, 2015, to remove the suspect’s name after the suspect contacted us to say the district court charges were dropped. We confirmed in the court's public database that the charges were subject to a "nolle prosqui." This means the prosecutor elected not to pursue the case, but it remains subject to re-indictment. Ramon Korionoff, public affairs officer for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney office, reported to other news outlets that the investigation is ongoing. The suspect also asserted to us that the video of the original television news story had been dropped from the television news affiliate's website, and he requested that we remove the embedded video from this blog.  It was only as a courtesy to him that we have removed the embedded video from this story. After all, we also represent criminal defendants and believe that everyone deserves a second chance! But we do not control, nor can we control that the video may remain resident and publicly available on the television news outlet's server.

The house had been on the market for over a year. The lesson behind the story is that you must check on your property regularly!! And talk to your neighbors--there is no reason for the alleged squatter to have fooled the neighbors, if that is what happened. It is easy to to knock on your neighbor's door to say "the house will be empty, call me if you see anyone try to enter."

In our real estate litigation practice, we've seen a lot of real estate scams (forged deeds, deeds executed after death, the impersonating of owners at settlement, producing fake death certificates, fake powers of attorney, and false corporate filings to reinvigorate defunct entities), but this story describes perhaps the most brazen and ill conceived that we have seen reported in the news.