What if you could move into a quarter-million dollar house for just $16?
A realtor seeking to put an abandoned Mansfield, Texas, mansion on the market was startled to find one resident had done just that under a law called "adverse possession."
"A gentleman cracked the door about that wide," realtor Sue Sistrunk recalled. "He asked who I was. I told him I was the realtor, and I had come to put the house on the market. He said, 'I live in the house now.'"
Adverse possession is a Texas law that dates back to the 1800s and was designed to settle homeowner disputes.
Under that law, if you go to the courthouse and file a $16 fee you can claim "adverse possession" - more commonly known as "squatter's rights."
In order for the original owner or for the bank to get the home back, they would have to wage an expensive legal battle.
More and more people are utilizing the loophole to move into abandoned or foreclosed homes, and the new trend is causing quite the controversy.
"I want the world to know what's going on, that if you leave your home for a few months, someone can move into it and take it and you've got to spend money to get it back," said Sistrunk, who has filed an appeal to get the squatter evicted.
"It's pretty brazen for someone to just go take over somebody's house and claim it as their own," remarked Tarrant County Constable Clint Burgess.
Last month alone, residents in Tarrant County filed 20 claims of "adverse possession."