Ken Robinson, the Man with the $16 House, Took SMU Law Students to School This Week

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Photo by Leslie Minora
Ken Robinson lectures SMU law students on his first-hand experience with adverse possession.
The property rights law of adverse possession is normally a dry topic, a chapter covered in law school to be forgotten immediately after final exams. This will not be the case for about 100 SMU law students who attended a Wednesday evening lecture by Ken Robinson, the Flower Mound man (and subject of an Observer cover story) who overtook a vacant suburban home for $16, the price of filing notice with Denton County.

Robinson is not a lawyer, but with a background in real estate and a penchant for unusual investments, he knows the law. He lectured with the charisma of a seasoned professor, first thanking everyone for having him, and even giving a hat-tip to Christopher Columbus, who used some version of adverse possession before the law even existed.

"One of these was not like the other," he said, explaining that the home where he now lives was unkempt compared to its perfectly manicured neighbors when he noticed it in the beginning of summer. He approached the property as an investment opportunity, figuring he might get a good deal if he could contact the owner. But he couldn't. He couldn't even track down information about the mortgage.

The home was apparently abandoned. Throughout his research, the only option he could find was adverse possession. So he filed notice with the county, moved in and fixed the place up to the trimmed and pruned standards met by his neighbors.

Soon, neighbors got wind of what had happened. Channel 8 showed up at his door, as did many other reporters; the Observer hung around on-and-off for about a month, and his home became a circus of curious visitors who hoped to follow his lead.

All along, he warned: adverse possession is not for everyone. It's not a simple investment opportunity; you must intend to make the home your permanent residence. It must not be owned by someone who still has interest in the property. This could, and does, get tricky.

It became tricky for several people in Tarrant County who overtook homes that were not properly suited for the law, Channel 8 reported recently. One man even moved into his neighbor's home when she went on vacation. Robinson's been warning against this since he moved into the home and did so again at SMU.

But if done right, he said, adverse possession saves homes from falling into disrepair and upholds property values. Plus, a person who adversely possessed a home must eventually prove to a judge that they should become the owner of record. Paying taxes and Home Owners Association fees, along with respecting the neighborhood and caring for the property, goes a long way.

The ongoing recession and faltering housing market make for odd situations allowing for opportunities like adverse possession, Robinson said. "We have an epidemic problem ... I think this process has become part of the solution."

"Well, I heard it's everywhere except Texas," joked Tony Seagroves, the second-year law student who initially reached out to Robinson and hosted Wednesday's question and answer session. Seagroves and a few other students were fascinated by his story in the context of what they were learning; they paid him a visit, then asked him to do the same to their class.

After the lecture, Seagroves told Unfair Park that adverse possession is covered in law school as it applies to farmland, not densely populated neighborhoods. Robinson modernized the concept.

Asked whether Robinson's use of the law was questionable or genius, Seagroves said, "Genius. I absolutely think it's genius ... He exercised his rights within the law."

"What better way to hear about the issues than from someone who's actually dealing with them," added SMU property law professor Sarah Tran. "Usually it's lawyers, not someone who's dealing with the issue," she said of typical guest speakers. "I feel strongly that every one of my students will remember adverse possession."

After the lecture, Robinson insisted he doesn't understand why he's been receiving so much attention. He repeated the way he often describes his situation: "It's just a real estate transaction."

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kenrobinsonisanidiot!
kenrobinsonisanidiot!

Then why does Kenneth Robinson not live in the house anymore? He was evicted and didn't even show up for his own eviction hearing. This man is one major small mouse with a bigmouth. 

Too bad KR girlfriend and here entire family was arrested for this scam.

KR the consummate con man who won't let it go until he is in prison. Dumb, dumb Kenny

Houston cats
Houston cats

And as a final thought to Mr. Robison. Learn from your mistakes before you create moreof a mess for yourself. You don't get all dressed up (milionaires don't dress like this) and run down to your local law school and go on video tape giving them a play by play howto break and enter into homes. This man must be seriously stuck on stupid. 

Yes, Mr. Robison is extremely bold to the point of utter stupidity. If he likes to take care of property, maybe he can move out of the great state of Texas and become a property manager. (that is if he doesn't get arrested for organized crime with the LaTour family) 

montanajones
montanajones

@Houston cats 

Thank you, one of the more common sense reactions to this stunt.

By the way Mr. Robinson is now marketing a "Ebook" describing how to acquire property by means of adverse possession.  The website describes him as a SMU "lecturer" and features a photo of him proudly posing before the SMU seal and another of him "at home" in the SMU library. I'm certain his Ebook conveniently leaves out the details of him being evicted.

Houston cats
Houston cats

It is my understanding SMU received complaints about Mr. Robinson speaking at SMU and having his picture taken with the SMU seal insinuating that he was somehow associated with the university.  

I'll bet SMU would think differently if one of its alumni returned from a business trip, only to have one of these thugs living in their home and all their possession stolen? ]

Surlely, SMU could find better people to set an example for its law students than scamartists? Look at the case of Joel Mcnair in Florida. This is hardly a new ruse, is it? Mr. Robinson read law books on the subject?  Hmmmm..sure at SMU?

Kathy Faulk
Kathy Faulk

I will have to look into Indiana property statues here where I live:)

Nomoreh1b
Nomoreh1b

I'm glad to see someone standing up to the banks. The maintenance of property on the part of wealthy interests that have no use forit is obnoxious.

crazy
crazy

Hey so how about that super bowl? it was a pretty bitchen game huh?SO Uh' whats everyone talking about here? LMFAO hey you think that guy was smoking crack in his free house?

TPL
TPL

Tony Seagroves...2nd year law student...much yet to learn Tony.

Ashley
Ashley

Well case closed.. Ken Robinson is now evicted from the house... http://news.yahoo.com/16-house... .. and quite frankly I'm disappointed in this law school, I can't believe that let this man come speak at their school teaching these future law students wrong information....

Just Me
Just Me

I am disappointed (and in shock) also... in fact I had to look up this info because I couldn't believe an actual Law School would invite this guy to speak about this law. I read the Texas version of this law and anyone who understands the english language can figure out that Mr. Robinson misinterputed what he read.  This is why the judge ruled in favor of the other party and Mr. Robinson is now evicted.

student houses Leeds
student houses Leeds

I am grateful someone lastly outlined that he still is 9.5 decades away from getting this home by negative ownership.  One caveat: If the present title/county certification truly does not indicate the present proprietor, he may be able to make a new headline, move it to a third celebration, and then have that celebration move the headline back to him. That MIGHT hit the holding out interval from 10 decades to 5.I am not a attorney, but I did remain at a Vacation Inn Communicate yesterday.

KenRobinsonisafool
KenRobinsonisafool

We are all squatters? What planet are you living on? Mr. Robinson has not studied anything, that is a complete fallacy.  There are underground books regarding this subject written byanti-government types trying to make a quick buck. 

Mr. Robinson's story does not hold true on so many levels. Did he proudly serve 4 years in the marine's as he states. NO His lies will all soon surface. He's a millionaire? Is that a joke?

Anyone that gives this man any money is an idiot and will end up in jail, just like the Latour family.  Please google Latour Mansfield.

Mr. Robinson picked the wrong state to pull this scam. Maybe in Tennessee, they put up with this. Maybe Colorado. Maybe California. Not Texas.

Jay Lac
Jay Lac

Buy your house out right with cash...then don't pay the property taxes and tell me if your not a squatter then...fk'ing dumb ass...why dont you go slip and fall off Mt Everest so you don't pollute the gene pool with your racist idiocy.  And I don't know shyte about home ownership but that much i do know.

Kathy Faulk
Kathy Faulk

I will have to look into Indiana property statues here where I live:)

Why so you think you have to put other states down-what do you do for a living that makes you better than the next person especially living in Texas?

guest
guest

The reason why the law is even there, is because the United States of America, stole the land from the Indians, so if they can do it so call lawfully then so can a citizen.  We are all renters according to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), you think you own something, we all squatters,because of the US of good ole A steeling the land.  So you think you are better than Kenneth, unknowingly, you are in the same position as him, only difference is he is learning the law, you continue to be ignorant and arrogant.

KenRobinsonisafool
KenRobinsonisafool

Did an uneducated squatter write the below comments?

"we are constantly Study?" Hmm, what does that gibberish mean?

Back to the grammar school books Leeds.  I listened to Kenneth Robinson speak. Sorry but he sounds uneducated and like he read a manual from one of those "church" functions from the Moorish Temple folks. I quite doubt he did hours of research unless listening to the Moorish Temple is research.  Yep Ken Robinson is a super dumb, dumb.

Student lettings in Leeds
Student lettings in Leeds

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kenrobinsonisanidot!
kenrobinsonisanidot!

Soon you'll be kicked back to the ghetto from which you came. Didn't yourmama tell you there is no free lunch? Dumb as a box of rocks. 

Richebner
Richebner

Kenneth Robinson talks like a low class thug. Ken get an education! You arejust being set up by the system. Your fall will be mighty! 

Turkey Property
Turkey Property

Really Great post we have now read a lot of your posts and been telling all our friends related to your blog.

FM
FM

I'd rather have someone in the home taking care of it rather than it being in foreclosure and driving down my property values.

Lookinatthefacts
Lookinatthefacts

OK, Ok, Did anyone ever think that the previous owner does not give a care about this whole thing,at ALL?  For Goodness Sake, with all the world attention he has recieved since when,July, you do not think that the previous owner knows of this.  They/He/Whoever does not care or want this property or they would have came forward by NOW!  And, I do not believe that it is 10years he has to wait so could folks do the REAL HOMEWORK HERE!!! Thank You!

Superbikess
Superbikess

I read all this fuss about who owns this or that but you people is missing a big point ..the house is the candle on the cake with out it theres still a party.. he now has time to maximize his income without the burdens of a mortage and if and when the dust settles he will get to keep the house or they will pay him to move not to mention all the taxes he pays if hes a theif then amercia itself is one as well

Suoerbikess
Suoerbikess

Just think for one moment and ask yourself how much of your retirement or 401k investment did you or someone you know lost by these junk bonds our country told promiss was safe. Then ask yourself how much of that bailout money did we get back. They took our money not once but three times, dont give us home loans and charge us even more when we need to take whats left to help ourself out of this jam they put us in most of you will call this justice or the amercian way. I PAID MY TAXES, WORKED MY LAND AND MADE A HONEST DOLLAR I should not be treated this way. and just think im not even in the armed forces... Look how they are being treated

Keith
Keith

This guy is AWESOME! I just stumbled on his site, 16DollarHouse.com. I do intend on purchasing his book, too.

Guest
Guest

All adverse possession is is a statute of limitations with some additional strings attached.  If he's there for 10 years and gets to keep the property, that doesn't mean he was in the right the entire time, it just means that even though the rightful owner had a claim against him to get the house back, they waited too long to assert it.  If I stole $100 from a dude, and said dude waited 5 years to sue me to get it back, I would get to keep it, because the statute of limitations ran out.  That doesn't mean that the $100 was rightfully mine the whole time, it just means the dude waited to long to do anything about it.

David Cornell
David Cornell

Soo....which comes first, a reality show based on Adverse Possession, or speaking engagements by the "Storage Wars" crew?

Alfredo
Alfredo

 Adverse Possession takes too long unless the leg lowers the time for Adverse Possession to six weeks it's going to have to be the Storage War crew

Another Bob
Another Bob

Note to SMU law students:  When you learn about the law of adverse possession, be sure you also learn about the law of trespass, which is even older than the law of adverse possession. 

Also, checlk out the law on escheat.

You might also try a trip to the Records Building to examine the documentation of title regarding this property to learn who has the record title to the property.  Some enterprising person will do so, and then contact the record owner with an offer to help them discover unclaimed property in which they might have an interest, which they will reveal to the record owner in exchange for a finder's fee.  As enterprising as Mr. Robinson is, maybe he will do that, so that he can make some money on the back end of the deal.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

so you are saying that after 6 months of national media attention, no one is as smart as you claim to be, and has done this...

Rooster
Rooster

"Genius. I absolutely think it's genius ... He exercised his rights within the law."

The above quote is the problem I have with most attorneys, and evidently we are now teaching these ethics in our law schools.

The guy is doing nothing more than trying to steal a house from a bank.  He is not genius.  He's a thief.

This guy will live rent free in this house for awhile until the bank that owns it spends the money to litigate their house back.  Yes, it's within the law, but taking something that doesn't belong to you, even if you found a niche law that enables you to do it, doesn't make you different than any other common thief.

David
David

if its the law its the law. it does not make him a thief in no way shape or form. they couldnt pay the mortage company went under it makes it no ones house period. a thief steals your car and breaks the law he followed the law and should win. its america and you break the law your a thief if you use the law to get a good deal like he did its called having common sense which you seem to have none of. i cant even imagine  the 7 people who liked your idea of him being a common thief. i bet if it was you who figured it out you would consider yourself smart and law abiding but you didnt so he is a thief. sorry you think some laws shouldnt be followed and some should. said your a law student probably too

Winslow
Winslow

Actually, the house is truly abandoned.  The original owner walked away to foreclosure. The bank who got it back was paid by insurance, and then later when out of business.  It is just sitting there with no one to claim it, so Mr. Robinson claimed it.  More power to him!  With no one at all to own it, it will fall to disrepair and make the surrounding property values go down.  How is this not doing everyone a favor?  It isn't stealing to stop and pick up something that others have discarded and choose to leave behind.  AND it is LEGAL. I salute this man.Signed,Not a lawyer, just an everyday taxpayer.

kenrobinsonisanidot!
kenrobinsonisanidot!

 Ding Dong, of course, someone owns it. Whoever, bought the bankrupt assets.Mr. Robinson aka complete dumb dumb, is only being allowed to stayin the house as it makes its way through bankruptcy court. After that, it is back to the ghetto and the values taught there. Maybe, Mr. Robinson should havespent his time in college for he could learn to talk like an educated personinstead of a thug. Mr. Robinson is only a publicity sleezebag.

Jay Lac
Jay Lac

If there more people like you in this world David..it would be a better place. you would get my business in a heartbeat.

Jay Lac
Jay Lac

Only a maggot like you would bring race into a situation when someone who is clearly leaps and bounds smarter than your dumb ass. I commend the rest of the posters for seeing this for what it is, a man using what the law gave him. Punk ass racist.

David
David

you are of coarse racist and an idiot as well. they didnt pay shit for ownership they where the first bank to see the property and fill the papers out and it was given to them they will make 100% profit be out no money while the orignal owners should have been allowed to keep it.. the builder got paid the company who gave the builder the money got paid bc the owner was in default so the claimed it on insurance the gov bailed them out and bank of america found the property filled the papers for a small filling fee and bam the house is theirs for around $50 tops to fill...idiot you probably live in the ghetto jump start you car every morning...im a builder and sell my own homes and even do balloon payments to help people and i have been bailed out more than once learn about how homes are sold before you sound like a dip shit and a racist ass and im white your just the idiot and again are made you couldnt think of it or even know how to do it lmfao go jump start your car your late for work at kfc

Guest
Guest

See other.

Rooster
Rooster

Might want to do your homework.  It's Bank of America's property.

Winslow
Winslow

Exactly.  Which equates to no one currently owns the house.  By definition of the law, it is an abandoned property and therefore open to adverse possession.

Rooster
Rooster

I'm very familiar with the concept.  If you truly believe no one can trace who owns your mortgage, stop paying yours tomorrow and see what happens.

DarthRader
DarthRader

You might want to do your homework and learn about CDOs where the banks shot themselves in the foot by splitting up mortgages and selling them as AAA securities which eventually failed but were insured anyway so the bank already got paid.  Once split up and sold to a bond holder, then devalued and paid by insurance company, who exactly owns the mortgage?

Ed D.
Ed D.

The house might appear to be BofA's property but the current mortgage debacle has revealed that, thanks to securitization and MERS, a lot of these financial institutions can no longer prove that they hold the title to these properties.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

so the poorly run crooked banks are not thieves. The ones who wrapped all these bad loans into asset backed securities are not thieves. The ones who sold these securities knowing there were bullshit are not thieves. The DC pols who bailed them all out with our money are not thieves.

THIS guy is the thief?

Really?

And by the way - if someone abandons a car, and you try to find the owner, or the lien holder, and there is no one, you know you can apply to get the title, right?

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-T...

Rooster
Rooster

And that justifies this guy trying to steal a house from a bank?

In that case, why don't you just go hold up a BofA, tell the judge you did it because you think the bank was "crooked", and see how far that gets you?

Your car analogy doesn't hold.  There is an owner.  It is BofA.  The guy is currently benefiting from Bank of America being "bogged down" with faulty foreclosure documentation.

The true owner is known, and they'll end of getting their house back eventually.

David
David

rooster the bank dont own shit they went belly up and bank of america bought what was in forecloser so really they stole a cheap house that was already paid for. the builder got his money from the bank that went belly up...then bank of america swope and pooped and got it for nothing they are not out any money at all in fact they will sell it and make pure profit pure profit. and your analogy of bank of america being bogged down with faulty foecloosure documentation dont hold shit either bc they are the ones who bleed the people who have homes raise rates and when the people cant pay the gov bails them out 100% not only am i a builder but i sell my own homes. when the company went belly up they picked up the property ( bank of america ) on paper work alone and with government asst. they are only the owner by paper not bc the paid out any money to a company that was belly up

Winslow
Winslow

You may want to check the facts. You are not correct. This house is not owned by BOA. 

Rooster
Rooster

It doesn't look to me like I'm the one that needs to clear up the difference.

It also doesn't look like I'm the one that needs to realize you don't have to make the same post 3 times to make your point.

Guest
Guest

Missed that part about BofA.

My brain must skip over unpleasant words when I'm reading.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

you really should try and clear up the difference between a mortgage and a title in your mind before you comment any furthe

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

you really should try and clear up the difference between a mortgage and a title in your mind before you comment any furthe

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

you really should try and clear up the difference between a mortgage and a title in your mind before you comment any further

Rooster
Rooster

From the Observer's article:

"The listed mortgage lender, Accredited Home Lenders, filed for bankruptcy in May 2009, and Bank of America is the current mortgage holder. "He's got a conflation of good things for him happening," McLain said of Robinson. The owner is nowhere to be found, the original mortgage company no longer holds the loan, and Bank of America is "bogged down" with faulty foreclosure documentation, part of the fall-out of the country's foreclosure crisis."

Guest
Guest

I hadn't seen that Bank of America was the owner (they aren't the owner of record on the Denton County CAD website yet).

I don't care for the amount of press this guy is getting since it appears to be encouraging other people to do stupid things and create some degree of havoc.

(And I'm unsure of a law that lets you hold up a BofA branch because they're crooks. But there is an adverse possession law that this dude appears to be following for the time being. Even if we think that law is being abused or that it's a law that shouldn't apply, there is a law).

Montemalone
Montemalone

Tell that to the Native Americans.

Alfredo
Alfredo

Power grows out of the barrel of a gun, Chairman Mao

Edgar
Edgar

I disagree.  If it's within the law, as you concede, it cannot be thievery.  He's claiming something that is not currently claimed by anyone else who has a superior right to it.  Unless and until someone with superior rights asserts those rights, it's free for the claiming.  I'd compare it to old homestead laws, where the land doesn't really belong to anyone until it's claimed and made someone's own.

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