At 23 years old, most of us were just hoping we could afford our first apartment for rent. But that's way below Andre Barbosa's grade. At 23, he's living in a $2.5 million luxury home in the millionaire's enclave of Boca Raton, Fla. -- for free. How? He's squatting in the McMansion.
The five-bedroom gated home is a foreclosure that had been sitting empty for more than a year, according to South Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper. Property records show that the house was sold to a family for $3.1 million in 2005, but now the rightful owner is Bank of America. The deed on the home states that its value is now $2.5 million. The bank foreclosed on the property in July and shortly thereafter Barbosa moved in, using what's known as a deed of adverse possession. It can allow people to take over an empty property after living there and maintaining it for a certain period of time. According to Florida law, a person can establish ownership of a property if they've been able to live in a home without eviction for seven years while paying property taxes and other costs.
It's astounding what Barbosa is getting for free -- at least for now. Photos of the home posted on Zillow show a gorgeous mansion with canal views, a stunning curved staircase, marble floors and bathrooms, sweeping open spaces, a top-notch gourmet kitchen, a huge master suite, and balconies. The Sun Sentinel reported that while it's not the only adverse possession case in Palm Beach County in recent years, it involves the most valuable piece of property.
Angry neighbors have called police to the home to remove Barbosa, reported WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, but authorities said that it's a civil matter because it's not clear that Barbosa broke into it. Neighbor Lyn Houston told the Sun Sentinel that she tried to buy the home from Bank of America to save it from lingering in foreclosure and decaying.
"This is a very upsetting thing," Houston told the newspaper. "Last week, I went to Bank of America and asked to see the person in charge of mortgages. I told them, 'I am prepared to buy this house.' They haven't even called me back."
WPEC spoke to other neighbors who had one message for Barbosa: Leave now.
"You're walking into a house, it's crazy. And the point of not being able to get him out is even crazier," one unidentified neighbor told the TV station. "Get out."
"Get a life," another neighbor said when asked what she would say to Barbosa.
Barbosa didn't respond to media requests for comment, but the Sun Sentinel quoted a Bank of America spokeswoman as saying the lender has sent a complaint and eviction notice to the county clerk.
Dubious claims of adverse possession recently have been used with some success by other squatters to take over homes. In Colorado, a couple who had been away from their home for a few months returned to find squatters living in their house. The squatters said a real estate agent had sold them a deed of adverse possession on the home, claiming the property had been abandoned. Even after a lengthy court battle, the squatters were still living there.
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