MANSFIELD — Squatters who took over a Mansfield home are out once and for all.
News 8 has been following the adverse possession trend for two months now. Earlier in December, we showed you how the La Tour family went to court for a routine eviction hearing, but were arrested instead.
On Tuesday, the couple was permitted to get their belongings out of the residence they had been occupying.
A moving crew hauled away the possessions of a family of squatters Wednesday. The LaTours claimed they had moved in to the two-story brick home legally through adverse possession, but it's a big mess now.
A Christmas tree, bicycles, furniture and appliances littered the lawn.
Andrew LaTour moved his family into the big Mansfield home last summer with every intent to stay. He claimed it for a $16 filing fee on an affidavit of adverse possession. The property's legal owner didn't even know.
"There was a homeowner who was trying to sell the home, and basically that's why he was out — to sell the home," explained Tarrant County Constable Clint Burgess.
That's when the LaTours moved in.
When Burgess contacted the legal owner, the owner filed a complaint.
The constable removed the LaTours from the residence shortly before Thanksgiving, but a judge ruled that the family could remove their belongings.
"Seizing this property for evidence, it would tie up the home for a lot longer," Burgess said. "They want to get the home back and move on with their lives."
All three claimed homes through adverse possession; all three have now been charged with burglary and theft for doing so.
"As we get going, we're finding more and more — it's not even just this area, it's really nationwide," Burgess said.
The LaTours declined to talk with News 8 on Wednesday, but they previously said they got into adverse possession through Kenneth Robinson. He claimed a house in Flower Mound and launched a Web site called 16DollarHouse.com to show others how to do it.
As it turns out, $16 can buy a lot of trouble. We've now seen at least eight people arrested on charges related to adverse possession just in North Texas, but as the constable pointed out, it's happening all across the U.S. with properties left empty by the mortgage crisis.
Sixty-two people filed for adverse possession in Tarrant County, but officials said they are no longer taking applications.