Real estate broker defends 'adverse possession'

Rosemary McCoy says legal act is sometimes confused with squatting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A real estate broker in Jacksonville is trying to show the differences between squatting and adverse possession.

Rosemary McCoy said the media and public often confuse the two.

"A lot of people think adverse possession is just take property for free. You've got to fix, repair [the properties]," said McCoy.

McCoy said she represents a man who owns and rents seven different properties that he has taken possession of, but hasn't purchased.

McCoy said her client took possession of the properties under the adverse possession law. The law allows any citizen to take over a vacant property and control it for seven years. Then, if the original owner doesn't claim the property, the new owner can take control.

"It's not a squatter," said McCoy. "This is adverse possession. Form 95-818. This is not squatting, this is taking property adversely. You tell everyone you're taking that property."

McCoy said she's concerned because of a string of stories on adverse possession covered by Channel 4. There were multiple arrests of squatters in homes who said they were using adverse possession in Jacksonville. The arrests included Warren Lee, a former candidate for Mayor of Jacksonville.

After that, McCoy said she's worried police are building a case against her client.

"They have started an investigation. They are looking to see if they can get enough information to arrest him," said McCoy.

McCoy said she feels those legally practicing adverse possession can turn certain communities around.

"When this property it isn't maintained affects entire community. The house next to it value down because property is deteriorated," said McCoy.

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