Man invokes obscure law to snatch up other peoples’ homes while they’re away

HouseImagine you are out of town for a few days, on a vacation maybe. You return home to find that squatters have moved into your house. They have even changed the locks and posted “no trespassing” signs to make sure that you can’t “intrude” on their privacy.

For a family in Springdale, Ohio, there is no need to imagine. It really happened to them, and now they are enmeshed in a drawn-out court battle against the new occupant, who claims the law is on his side.

Station WLWT reports that the family, who has chosen to keep its identity secret, came back from an out-of-town visit to a dying relative only to discover that their home of 21 years had a new owner. His name is Robert Carr (pictured here), and he has carried out this same scam a total of 11 times.

Carr and his accomplices stake out a house to make sure the owners are away, then spring into action. Action begins with emptying the house of its contents.

When the rightful owners confronted him in this instance, he presented them with a copy of a document he filed with the Hamilton County Court. It is called a “quiet title” (aka, “try title,” “trespass to try title,” and “ejectment action”) and lays claim to property that has reportedly been “abandoned.”

Karin Johnson, the author of the article at the WLWT website, managed to track Carr down at one of the other houses for which he has filed ownership documents. He told her:

When you abandon a property, bam, walk away from it, ‘I ain’t never coming back. I don’t want nothing to do with it,’ right? Somebody can come in, ‘Oh, mine.’

I have a team of people who go out and I say make sure the house is empty. If it’s empty, change the locks.

The family is suing to reclaim ownership. Johnson also reached out to the FBI on the family’s behalf. Although agents would not comment on this specific case, one did admit that the bureau has seen similar cases before.

They’ll come together as groups to receive training, how to conduct some of these schemes from a financial standpoint, to understand what they consider the common law and how they can use that common law for their sovereign purposes. I’m not familiar [with] any cases where it’s held up in court. I think that it holds up the process of the court’s decision.

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