So Texas has this law, see, that allows ranchers who take care of vacant land to claim that land as their own if no one contests it. All they have to do is pay the property tax and stay there for at least three years.

But then there are all these foreclosures and empty houses. So what happens? Squatters start living in them, pay $16 to file an “adverse possession” affidavit, and when the owners (banks, dead people, folks in the hospital) don’t contest — well, it’s theirs for the cost of property tax.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ‘splains it:

[T]he law doesn’t distinguish between a claim on a $27 section of sod and one on a $2.7 million mansion with an elevator, three master bedrooms, a five-car garage and a pond with fish in the back yard. File the proper paperwork, pay a $16 filing fee, keep up with the property taxes and live in the house three years or more, and even the courts may not be able to evict you.

Oops.

Continues the article:

Legitimate or not, the affidavits create a real estate nightmare, muddying up the title of homes and making them impossible to sell.

Read the whole thing. It’s a mess in Texas.