Constables continue adverse possession evictions

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by JIM DOUGLAS and JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on November 23, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 24 at 9:26 AM

MANSFIELD - Tarrant County Constable Clint Burgess said people using a little known Texas law called adverse possession to move into vacant homes shouldn't be surprised to see him or his deputies at their front door.

"It's been clearly stated across the area that adverse possession will not be tolerated - especially when there's a homeowner," Burgess said. "Anybody who does that in this Metroplex will be charged and held accountable."

Andrew LaTour and his family moved into a two-story Mansfield house in August after filing for adverse possession with the Tarrant County Clerk, paid a $16 filing fee, then claimed the property as their own, while insisting it was abandoned.

"If the home is abandoned, it's not being taken care of, you have a right to go ahead and claim that," LaTour said.

But prosecutors say the house wasn't abandoned - just vacant - and belongs to a mortgage company, which asked constables to evict LaTour and his family.

No charges were filed in this case. The family had 30 minutes to gather belongings and leave.

"We've told them no TVs and anything else they might have in there," Burgess explained. "Just necessities like clothing and what not."

Minutes later around the corner, deputies did the same thing to a vacant home LaTour's mother moved into, claiming adverse possession.

News 8 discovered as many as 70 cases of adverse possession filed recently in Tarrant County.

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office said it's actively pursuing people who take advantage of this century old law. They evicted another family two weeks ago, and some squatters have even faced burglary charges.

"You have to earn what you get in this society. You can't just move in and take other people's property," said Pete Shryock, a neighbor of the home LaTour took over.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

 

 

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