After moving in for $16, he's ready to share technique

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on July 20, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 20 at 10:43 PM

FLOWER MOUND — The man who took possession of a $330,000 home for just $16 now wants to show other people how to do it.

Last week, we told you about Kenneth Robinson's discovery, and since then his story has spread around the world on the Internet.

People who see what he's done want to know more about a real estate law called "adverse possession." While the technique has its risks, Robinson is now reaping the rewards.

"I mean, I've been contacted even from Hong Kong," he said, reviewing his fan mail.

The man who says he's a former Marine, entrepreneur and real estate agent moved into the house a month ago, claiming "adverse possession."

He filed an affidavit at the Denton County courthouse that says he is now the owner of a house that was abandoned by someone else.

When people saw what he's done, they started calling and knocking on his front door.

"All they want is that paperwork," Robinson said. "But there is a whole lot more to it than just the paperwork. The paper is what makes it legal."

Robinson said he wants to cash in on his technique with a seminar that outlines the rules (and risks) of adverse possession.

The number one risk is eviction. Any person or a bank with the legal title can start the process.

In Robinson's case, it could be Bank of America.

"Bank of America told me it has not foreclosed on the property, rather the original owner just walked away," he said. "If it does foreclose, it will exercise all of its legal rights."

That could mean having Robinson removed from the house by police, or offering him a financial incentive to leave.

David Weatherbie is the former chair of the state bar's committee on real estate law. He told News 8 that "adverse possession" is as old as Texas.

It is normally used to settle disputes between ranchers or land owners where property lines aren't well-defined.

Weatherbie said Robinson has little chance of ever owning the Flower Mound house outright because he would have to live there for 5, 10 or 25 years before it reverts to his ownership.

"That's a long time for somebody to just sit in a house that somebody else might actually own without the other party taking action to evict them from the house," Weatherbie said.

Robinson says even if he's forced to move, he could still claim possession of the appliances, the pool table or anything inside.

Or he could walk away with a check for his time.

"But if I have to go, I am prepared to go," he said. "I'm here to stay, but if I have to go, I am prepared to."

Robinson says he wants other people to know adverse possession is not a loophole — it's the law. He's ready to use his experience to teach them all about it.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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