Man pays $16 to take over $330,000 house

The neighbors are outraged, but the Texas resident says his takeover is legal and will eventually give him title to the suburban Dallas home.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 18, 2011 1:59PM

Waterford Drive, Flower Mound, Texas (© 2011 Microsoft Corporation/Pictometry Bird's Eye)We all dream of scoring a great deal on a house.


But a $330,000 house for $16?

Kenneth Robinson of the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound, Texas, says he sealed just such a deal, taking over a vacant house by simply moving in and paying $16 to file documents with the court claiming ownership.


"This is not a normal process, but it is not a process that is not known," he told WFAA-TV in Dallas. "It's just not known to everybody."


Robinson said he invested months in research to find the house. The property had been in foreclosure for more than a year, and the owner walked away. In the meantime, the lender that held the mortgage went out of business.

Robinson says he can take legal title to the house after he lives there for three years through a provision in the law called "adverse possession." Exactly how that works varies state to state.


This is how WFAA explains the situation:

… Robinson said just by setting up camp in the living room, Texas law gives him exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner. If the owner wants him out, he would have to pay off his massive mortgage debt and the bank would have to file a complicated lawsuit.

Robinson believes because of the cost, neither is likely. The law says if he stays in the house, after three years he can ask the court for the title.

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The neighbors are outraged that Robinson got a house on their suburban street for $16 and have tried to get the police to arrest him for trespassing or breaking and entering. But Robinson says he had a key to the house, and the police say it's a civil matter, not a criminal case.

Candy Evans of the Dallas real-estate blog Candy's Dirt called a title attorney to ask if Robinson had a chance of holding on to the house. She wrote:

… he told me he seriously doubted that Robinson will get ownership of this home, but he may get a free place to live for several months. The owner of the home will be whoever acquires the assets of the defunct mortgage company, but that company will have to regroup and take legal action against Robinson. And that could take months.

Robinson isn't the first person who has tried to take over an abandoned home by just moving in and claiming adverse possession.


In Seattle, a family was arrested after they moved into an 8,000-square-foot mansion. That family had filed claims to 10 other homes as well. In Florida, three men were arrested on felony charges after trying to take over more than 200 homes, which they planned to rent to tenants. And those are just a few of the efforts nationwide that squatters have made to take over vacant property through one tactic or another.


What do you think? Should Robinson be able to keep the house?


Apr 2, 2014 2:31AM
"Adverse possession" has many similar applications.  If you allow a neighbor to always use a corner of your property, for any reason, and he mows it, etc., or if you allow a fence that improperly infringes on your land and do nothing to remedy it, that property can be lost to you under the law of adverse possession.

A friend lost a chunk off her lot because of an improperly placed fence, which they did not try to remedy.  When the homeowner next door moved out, and the new folks moved in, and still there was nothing done, the friend eventually lost a few feet off their lot. 

Always protect your property rights.

Jan 26, 2013 8:29PM
The law is the law,if you owe your house the goverment can take your house, if they feel a need for it. Its has nothing to to do with what you pay for your house,The goverment can do it why not the people, if it makes all the requirements by law.....Hats Off
Dec 8, 2012 8:56AM
It makes you wonder who the real crock/dishonest person is? Yes, He should either be able to keep the house or the seller should have to give him His money back!!
Oct 11, 2012 3:20PM
I think that if somehow he manages to live in the home for a full three years with no ramifications, I think he deserves to  keep it.  The family that moved out should come forward if they really care and if they don't care then why should anyone else?  The mortgage company has allowed this to happen, so if they have not gotten their act together in three years and evicted this guy then all I can say is GOOD FOR HIM!!!!!!
Jul 16, 2012 8:35PM
Loophole in the system, maybe... The US gov has title to this type of mishap. During the zombie apocalypse I could see someone getting a free house or maybe even in a 3rd world country. But, this is "Merica" where nothing is free to those who dont work for it. This guy was slacking his whole life waiting for something like this to happen. I say throw im in jail for a day and kick him in the **** on the way out of jail the next day so we dont have to spend any tax payers dollars on a dead beat.
Jul 16, 2012 6:47PM
If the original owner walked away and the lending instution went out of business, then there is actually no longer a rightful owner and no mortgage on the property.  I say good for him.  I hope he gets it.
Jul 16, 2012 4:26PM
The neighbors are just jealous. Let the courts decide the law.
May 15, 2012 9:42PM

yes he should be able to keep it because he did his homework, and he was blessed for it.  Thanks


Dec 15, 2011 1:22PM

 Its a crazy law and although the thinks he has won he hasn't. He will never get that house. He is just free loading while he can but his bubble will be bursted soon enough in my opinion. Its just stupidity.

Dec 15, 2011 9:02AM
I'm sure this has already occurred to many readers, but this is an indirect attack on current mortgage paying homeowners everywhere.  If the general public comes to believe that someone can just go and take an empty house because they feel like it, why should anyone ever pay to build a new house or buy an existing house again?  And just by the way, the current owners of this particular house are you and me, the tax paying public, who bailed out Fanny May and Freddie Mac, which assumed most marginal residential loans and transferred responsibility for those obligations to the federal government, which covered the costs by borrowing money from the Chinese, the Canadians, private US investors, and anyone else willing to hold US debt obligations.  Our great-grandchildren will have to repay those loans, and thus, in a very real way, if this fellow succeeds in his quest to obtain a "free" home, it will ultimately be paid for by US taxpayers.  I'm not trying to be mean here, but in economic terms, there is simply no such thing as a free lunch, or a "free" house.  Someone always has to pay for everything in the end.  In this case, that someone is you and me, through our tax dollars.  The actual financial trail is a little more complicated than that, but from an auditor's point of view, that's what it ultimately boils down to.  Our grandkids will be paying off the third party mortgage that was ultimately underwritten by the federal government by repaying the loans the federal government took from the Chinese.  How's that for a "free" house? 
Dec 10, 2011 9:41AM
People say regarding him: "...make him do just as the hard-working people like the rest of us..," how do they know he hasn't put in the personal labor? maybe he has a job which would cover the association fee; maybe he's done his own repairs and up-keep, which even the bank apparently didn't even do? Jealous that someone made an actual time-consuming effort to find oppurtunity, wether so-called "moral" or not, yet legal, and that they didn't, and continue on their daily hum-drum life of going to work to fulfill only their homelife in front of the tv and playing games on facebook?---okay that last part is a crude judgement, but you get the gist. Geez, bitch about the banks, then turn right around and bitch about a regular citizen besting one organization in an industry which we all know wields great influence if not downright controls those who make the laws. If he isn't a trouble-maker, quit bitchin, be glad to have him, or at the least leave him be!
Nov 29, 2011 10:53AM
If the previous owners left it and the mortage company went under, why not let him take it over. He still has to pay a monthly fee of at least $300 to the Home Owners Association. So technically he's not living there for free.
Aug 22, 2011 10:25AM

We have many laws in force that have loopholes.  The laws weren't made with this intent.  And as someone else said in this string, just because it's the law, doesn't make it ethical and moral.  Yes, he did homework and research and is obviously smart, but he didn't EARN or BUY the house or pay RENT on the house like the rest of us do.  He will lose in the end, because the book of loans from the out-of-business lendor will be acquired by another financial institution and he will be out on his rearend.  Sadly, it is likely he will do this again, as people like this have to always push the envelope and live outside of what the rest of us know as "normal living or American Society".  He knows that what he is trying to do is what the rest of us call "pulling a fast one".  I don't wish him luck.  I wish him a dose of reality.

Aug 22, 2011 8:59AM
And exactly how is this different from eminent domain?  If he followed the letter of the law he should be victorious!  The law says the government can come take my home from me, even if I own it outright, because they find a need for it.  The law is the law!  He stays I say!
Aug 22, 2011 5:36AM

This guy thinks this is really gonna work? That "law" was not intended for such a thing! Someone out there owns this house..and will come along and evict him...then he will have that working for him! He has spent alot of time and money to get a law to "bend" in his favor? The law is never on our side...that's for sure! This may have worked years ago...on a piece of unclaimed land or something...but I have not heard of any cases that this has worked in this foreclosure market. Can't this guy just buy a home like the rest of us? Stealing from someone will only get you into trouble!

Jul 21, 2011 4:32PM
Absolutely. If the man is smart enough to acquire after the owner "took a walk" and the finance company went belly up. Why would the neighbors be in an uproar, his intentions of staying 3 years seem legit and he would be an addition to the community. Better than another handout to our too numerous welfare recipients. Now watch - all claim we as taxpayers owe them freebies. Hats off, he did his homework. ( keyword-work )
Jul 21, 2011 3:58PM
Seems like it's his under section code "Finders keepers."  See also "Losers Weepers." 
Jul 21, 2011 3:50PM
Hey the law's the law. If he did it fair and square then it's his gain. I wish I knew enough about houses to do it. Sounds like a good deal to me! Why shouldn't he profit from their error? Big companies do it to little people all the time.
Jul 21, 2011 2:54PM

 let him keep it (if he can).

 why can't he take advantage of a legal loop hole, when every other corp., bank, and gov. agency does so.

 or are you just ticked off because you hadn't thought of, or taken advantage of it first?

Jul 21, 2011 10:20AM
That's one of this country's problems.  "Legal" doesn't make it right.  There are scores of laws that need to be deleted or updated because they are some of the dumbest things to ever be put on paper.  This is one of them.  If it's legal for him to obtain a house this way, why isn't it legal for the real owners to stay there without paying for three years while trying to work things out?  What do legislators do every day if they don't see crap like this?  He should be a crook.  I know there are some people who just don't take responsibility serious enough and may not pay their mortgages on purpose, but a hard-working, honest family that just hit a bad place in life by being laid off, etc., shouldn't be punished while some get-over **** looks for any way he can to get out of working hard for what he has.  I'll never agree with this one.
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