With the great number of homes that have succumbed to foreclosure over the last few years and the financial struggles that so many Americans have found themselves embroiled in since then, it is no wonder that across the country there are record numbers of homes standing empty and neglected. While in some cases, the bank that owns the property takes care of the maintenance of the home, in many other cases there is no maintenance done and too many homes have fallen victim to vandals or squatters.
There has been a rash of cases over the past year where squatters are making claims to homes based on an archaic law called Adverse Possession; an old out-dated law that allowed people to take possession of abandoned homes if they inhabit the home and pay the taxes for seven years (depending on the jurisdiction that the home is in). One of the big problems with this scenario is that these vacant homes are not owned by the home owner anymore and just standing empty; they are bank-owned homes so the Adverse Possession rules do not apply.
Squatters are not just setting up house in these vacant homes for their own benefit either; many phoney home “owners” are trying to make a buck with these bank owned properties as well. Many renters have been taken in by Craigslist and other advertisements for rental properties that are being rented out by people who do not actually own the property.
Of course, it is rarely the fraudsters who suffer when these cons fall through and banks discover people living in homes that are supposed to be empty. Renters often find themselves both out of a home and rent money when it is discovered that they have been renting a home from someone who does not actually own it.
For anyone looking to rent or buy a home currently, it is a good idea to be careful that you are not vulnerable to a foreclosure scam. Be wary of homes listed for sale or rent through Craigslist, as that is one of the preferred methods of advertising these rental and home sale scams. If you are looking to buy a home, it is always a good idea to use a buyer’s agent to help you ensure that the deal is on the up and up. If you are looking to rent a home, consider going through a property management company for additional security.