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Adverse Possession Claim Keeps Real Homeowners Out

1:23 PM, Sep 26, 2011   |    comments
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OAKLEAF PLANTATION, Fla. -- Realtor Laila Salameh has sold a number of homes, but has never experienced an adverse possession claim.

"I've never come across this in 10 years of doing business," she said.

But on Sept. 16, before the ink was dry on the sale of a house in the Oakleaf Plantation, Marcellous Dunbar filed a claim against the property using the adverse possession law, and moved in.

"We were stunned because we had been to the house on the 18th to do some clean-up so the couple could move in with their children," said Salameh.


According to court records, the adverse possession claim was filed by Dunbar the same day Salameh was closing the sale of the house to an out-of-state family.

"He actually paid nothing, he didn't pay past property taxes. He didn't pay anything, he just moved in after filing this claim," said Salameh.

A week before Dunbar filed his adverse possession claim, a warranty deed to the property was filed with the new owners names. They bought it for $440,000.

Real estate attorney Ed Kelly, who is not connected with this property, said while adverse possession is a proper legal procedure, it is not designed to simply allow someone to move into vacant properties.

"It is designed to protect someone who has been in possession of property in good faith for a long time without realizing their title was defective," said Kelly.

The period is seven years and the tenant must have paid property taxes and occupied the property during that time frame.

Salameh wants Dunbar out so the buyers can move in.

"They've got their moving trucks ready, their stuff is in storage with the military, waiting for a place to go put their stuff. They're in an uproar they don't know what to do," she said.

Clay County deputies took her concerns seriously and after hours of searching for Dunbar, he was arrested by JSO and transported to Clay County.

Clay County Sheriff Office spokesperson Mary Justino said Dunbar has been charged with burglary and grand theft. 



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