The Law That Lets You Legally Steal Houses

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This video was made possible by Dashlane. Stay safe online for 10% off by being one
of the first 200 to use the code, “HAI” at checkout. Here at Half as Interesting, we take a firm
stance against assault, arson, kidnapping, adults napping on subway benches, pickles,
slow walkers, referring to travelators as moving walkways, people using the iPhone alarm
sound as their ringtone, nuclear proliferation, the under toiler paper orientation, wind faster
than 15 miles per hour, murder, mosquitos, referring to personal flotation devices as
life jackets, Bombardier CRJ200’s, square earthers, 3D movies, crocs, the lack of video
editing function on YouTube, under-hydration, and stealing. Well, maybe I should be more specific. Here at Half as Interesting, we don’t condone
stealing when it’s illegal. When stealing is legal, on the other hand,
I mean, go for it. You see, there are times when stealing someone’s
house can be totally, 100% legal. If you’re wondering how, allow me to introduce
you to a little something called “adverse possession.” Adverse possession, commonly called squatter’s
rights, is a legal process whereby a person trespassing on someone else’s property,
if they stay there long enough, actually becomes the legal owner of that property. In other words, if the trespasser trespasses
long enough, they not only become not a trespasser, they also become the owner. It would be like saying that if you pretended
you own a country for long enough, you would actually end up owning that country—*cough*
Britain. Now, in what is the least surprising thing
since the violation of the treaty of Versailles, adverse possession, the principle of sitting
on land long enough until you own it, derives from old English common law. See, back in ye olde days, when lands were
constantly being conquered and pillaged and stolen, it was often hard to know who legally
owned property. So instead of figuring it out, the courts
kind of just shrugged and decided that if someone had managed to live on a piece of
property for long enough, they were probably its rightful owner. Somehow those laws have continued to exist
until today—in several formerly or presently crumpet consuming countries, including England,
Australia, and the United States, adverse possession remains the law of the land. Today, adverse possession is usually used
for minor land disputes between neighbors. For example, if you have a fence that technically
goes a bit into your neighbor’s property, and you’ve maintained that area for several
years, it’s possible you can claim it through adverse possession. But in some cases it can be used for much
more than that, with squatters successfully using it to claim entire houses as their own. Now, I’d like to welcome you to the segment
called, “HAI’s Super Cool, Super Accurate Legal Advice: I’m Not a Lawyer, This Isn’t
Legal Advice, Please Don’t Sue Me.” Before you get all excited and decide you’re
going to steal your neighbor’s house, you should know that there are five specific criteria
that must be met in order for adverse possession to work. First, the possession must be “hostile.” That doesn’t mean you have to invade with
trebuchets, the gentleman’s weapon, but it does mean that you must, in fact, be on
the land without the owner’s permission—you have to actually be trespassing. Otherwise, for example, people who are renting
or borrowing a house might be able to claim ownership under adverse possession. So, pro tip, put a sign up inviting anyone
in and then nobody can claim adverse possession! Criteria dos, the possession must be “actual.” That means that not only must the trespasser
actually be on the property, they also must be using it as if it was their own, and actively
maintaining it. You have to be living there and doing the
stuff that a normal homeowner would do—mending the hedges, mowing the fences, watering the
windows, taking out the lawn, weeding the trash, the normal stuff. Criteria number c, the possession it must
be “open and notorious.” In other words, you can’t be hiding the
fact that you live there. So don’t worry—if somebody is hiding in
your attic for five years, they can’t suddenly take you to court and claim that they own
your house. Open and notorious possession means that the
trespasser must be living there clearly and openly, in such a way that the real owner,
if they were paying any attention at all, would be able to know that they are there
and kick them out. Criteria number IV, the possession must be
“exclusive.” The person or people claiming the property
must be the only ones living there. The owner cannot be living on or using the
property at any point; if they do, then your claim is gone. Which means that if you’ve been on a property
for years waiting to take adverse possession, if the real owner even stops by to use the
bathroom, then the clock starts over again. It is for this reason that in New York, for
example, where there are plenty of privately owned courtyards open to the public, many
of these are barricaded off by their owners once a year just to prove the owner’s domination
of the land so that nobody can live on and subsequently claim the courtyards. And finally, criteria number cinq, the possession
must be “continuous.” You must continuously live on the property
for a certain period of time. That doesn’t mean you can never leave—you
can go to the grocery store or on a normal vacation—but you must be using the property
the way that a normal property owner would. You can’t go to an abandoned house once
or twice over several years and then claim it. How long you have to live there depends on
the state or nation’s laws. It could be as short as five or as long as
forty years. But once you reach that magic number—boom,
you own the place… assuming you succeed in proving you meet the
criteria in a complex and expensive legal process. Nonetheless, people successfully apply the
law of adverse possession all the time in the countries where it exists—often fixing
up and living in abandoned buildings. Now, if you become an adverse possession master
you might end up with quite a few houses and they’d be safe because you’d probably
have a different key to each house. That way if you lose a key, only one of your
houses would be compromised rather than all. If that makes sense, then why would you use
the same password on all your online accounts? You should have different passwords for each
site but, you’ll never be able to remember them all, unless you use Dashlane. Dashlane securely stores all your passwords
in one place and autofills them when you go to login. More than that, though, Dashlane is an online
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76 thoughts on “The Law That Lets You Legally Steal Houses”

  1. Gimme those topic suggestions here so I can spend more time researching outdated memes:

    If I use your suggestion, I'll send you a free HAI t-shirt

  2. So I'm Australian and there's an abandoned house just up the road that's been unused for years.

    I have an idea.

  3. You really shouldn't have created this video, just for own financial gain. The downsides to release a video like this, FAR outweigh the negative consequences as a result of squatting.

  4. You really shouldn't have created this video, just for own financial gain. The downsides to release a video like this, FAR outweigh the negative consequences as a result of squatting.

  5. You really shouldn't have created this video, just for own financial gain. The downsides to release a video like this, FAR outweigh the negative consequences as a result of squatting.

  6. Here in Italy, if you illegally enter a house, and you have underage children, the owner cannot send you away.
    This is a very oversimplified version of the law but it has been a problem, especially in the South with increasing immigration.

  7. So squading in abonded building for 40 years eh? With that much time in can build a bunker for ww3,make it almost impossible visit it and dig my grave just to be prepared.

  8. This was an outstanding 'show'. I particularly like the interesting slant and the humorous choice of words to describe the 5 elements. Thanks.

  9. 3:02 mending the hedges, milling the fences, watering the windows, taking out the lawn, reading the trash, ThE NoRMaL StuFF. Wut

  10. adverse possession does not equal "trespassing for long enough for it to become legal" nor "stealing".
    trespass is used way too much in this video, giving a false idea of what this actually is. it's not a loophole, it's one of the most traditional ways of acquiring property: make use of a land forgotten by its owner. hostile possession does not imply malicious tresspassing, it only means that it's not a possession that is happening because of a contract/agreement with the legal owner. as in, there's no legal title for that possession. sometimes this means intentional trespass but 1) not always and 2) intentional tresspass does not add up to the majority of cases of adverse possession (it's mostly accidental).
    Also, adverse possession does not derive from old english common law but from latin law – which was applied in the whole continent and later was absorbed into english common law.

  11. Some familys abandon houses when relatives die, and then decide years later to actually do something with it…perfect case for this. Move in and start taking care of the place!

  12. The under toilet paper orientation is a cardinal sin and one of the greatest threats to humanity that needs to be eradicated immediately

  13. I smoked right before watching this and when you said criteria number c I had to rewind to make sure I heard what I heard… 4 times

  14. I'm surprised we have not gotten rid of squatters rights due to the lack of necessary.

    Or at least modify it to where it's harder / impossible to steal homes.

  15. I think these laws were intended for when someone died (or moved West) and left a house behind. Not so much for today. Although if a property owner really doesn't come home in five years or more, they don't really need that house.

  16. This is absolutely possible to do. It happened across the street from a friend of mine. The lady living there was a widow, and let the house fall into disrepair after her husband died, because she was disabled. She left the property to go live with relatives out of state, but didn't sell the house, nor did she leave anyone to care for it. A guy who was the ex boyfriend of her daughter got wind the house had been abandoned and started squatting there and it became his. They were finally able to get rid of him when he got busted selling drugs out of there. The taxes hadn't been paid on the property in a few years, and once that guy vacated the property (to go spend a few years in the state pen), one of the neighbors paid the taxes on it, took over ownership of the property, and had the house demolished.

  17. Homeowners could let the trespasser maintain the house then kick them out just before the deadline.
    "Thanks for keeping the place nice, fool!"

  18. 1: Openly walk into someone's house (1)
    2. Live a normal life there for long enough (2, 3, 5)
    3. Hope the owner never comes back, ever (4)
    If all these conditions are met, then congratulations, you have captured yourself a house!

  19. Hey guys life hack, in the United States there's actually a counter law to the adverse possession law and it's called the Second Amendment

  20. Don’t let the cops find out! Simple!

    It even works with necrophilia, they still haven’t found the body’s.

  21. to call adverse possession the same as stealing is kinda stupid. its not stealing at all, in order to adverse possess your house, I have to move in there tell everyone I own the house and pay property tax for 10-15 years, so no its not hiding in the house, its actively living in the house doing day to day things, the property is my address according to the government, any services I guess and bills, you also obviously dont pay property tax on it because I've been paying it for 15 years for the longest examples, and I've been living there the entire time.
    the law is in place because after that long of vacating a property, you have clearly abandoned it. its not hiding in the basement to a run down house. its moving into a house that no one lives out, paying over due property tax, putting it down as your primary residency on bills, government issued things like licenses etc, and no one noticing for 10-15 years
    edit: also the home owners cant have willingly let you live there either. basically knowledge of you living there must be public, but if the owners consent to it, then adverse possession doesnt apply

  22. So if you don't live in your house long enough and a trespasser does, you can actually lose it? That's crazy. What if you have a legal document showing that you are the owner of the property? Would squatter's rights still apply?

  23. My response to this topic is adverse murder. I murdered a man but given enough time and intention, it was legally my right.

  24. you can legally steal houses because the court wants its cake and wants to eat it too…..if there are drugs in the house or in a location. cops can say random people close by own the drugs due to proximity, some crafty law student used that premise..if a brick of cocaine is yours because it was a certain distance from you despite the lack of a receipt or ownership documents its yours by that logic so is a house. that former law student where ever he is should be feared

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