Trial to begin in Arlington 'adverse possession' case

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

TARRANT COUNTY — A  "squatter" who used the law of adverse possession to take over a luxury home goes on trial in Fort Worth Tuesday. It's the first of several cases exposed by News 8 last year.

We found David Cooper living in a $400,000 home in north Arlington last year.

"Like I said, this house was abandoned before I got it," he said, adding that he legally took it over by filing a claim of adverse possession.

It cost him $16.

"After I looked up the Texas law and found out it was legal, then I found out there are ways I can do it," he said. "So that's how we made it happen. It's been a law since the 1800s."

After the story aired, Cooper was arrested for theft and burglary. He's the first of at least eight people facing trial in Tarrant County for moving into homes after filing adverse possession claims.

Records show about 60 adverse possession affidavits filed in Tarrant County last year on millions of dollars of property, including a mansion. Most people never actually moved into the houses.

The district attorney declared the claims fraudulent, and told the county clerk to stop accepting them.

"But that's not the law," Cooper insisted. "You got to go with the law... Texas law. This house was abandoned," he said, adding that he was fixing up the home.

In the case against David Cooper, the true homeowner said she was out of town getting medical treatment when her house was taken over.

The adverse possession argument will now get its first test before a judge and jury.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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