Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Squatter Stories

Like the law of finders, adverse possession is fun to teach for many reasons. Students easily grasp the notion of someone squatting on property and can deduce the equities in the situations. Everyone will recall Tom Merrill’s (Columbia) oft-cited article, Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Adverse Possession, describing the theories behind adverse possession.  With a little prodding, students can usually come up with many of those rationales.

Adverse possession is also fun because it is easy to bring in lots of modern day stories of adverse possessors. These stories are all over the news and help students connect in class concepts with real world events, sometimes even in their own back yard. Different news stories evoke different sympathies for the adverse possessor/squatter or the true owners.

For those of you looking for current stories, here are a handful of news articles from just the past three months for you to consider.

Washitah Nation Squatters in New Orleans 

Bristol Squatter in an Abandoned Pub 

House Previously Occupied by Verbose Squatter on Sale for $1.5M

Safety Concerns for Squatters in the Bronx

Discussing squatting or adversely possessing real property also allows students to think about squatting on other forms of property, such as personal property or, more trendy for the millennial generation, virtual property. Cybersquatting is certainly something that 20-somethings will quickly grasp and apply to their everyday lives. And this allows for the ever-fun discussion of cybersquatting in presidential politics, which there has been no shortage of this campaign season!

With that in mind, next up in my blogging is a look at what the presidential candidates have said regarding property laws, so stay tuned and see what each of the remaining candidates has said (at least publicly) about different aspects of property law.


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