February 1, 2013

High-profile squatter gets eviction papers

Andre 'Loki Boy' Barbosa has been occupying the $2.5 million Boca Raton home since Dec. 26.

Sun Sentinel

BOCA RATON, Fla. - His brazen occupation of a Boca Raton mansion spawned worldwide headlines. He provoked a discussion of the area's backlog of abandoned properties, and he might become the poster boy for getting an obscure state law stricken from the books.

Squatter in Boca Raton home
click image to enlarge

This waterfront home in Boca Raton, Fla., is being occupied by a 23-year-old squatter.

Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post/MCT

But on Wednesday morning, 23-year-old Andre "Loki Boy" Barbosa was served with eviction papers at the $2.5 million, five-bedroom home he has been squatting in since at least Dec. 26. The home's rightful owner, Bank of America, wants him out.

A spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said the notice was served at the mansion without incident.

Lawyer Gary Singer of Sunrise, Fla., said it's the start of a process that could take three to six weeks, depending on whether Barbosa requests a hearing.

Barbosa has remained elusive to media that have sought his comment as news of his squatting has spread. Someone posting on Facebook under his name, however, has been checking in at the home's Golden Harbour Drive address, calling it Templo de Kamisamar.

"Peace within is peace without," someone posted under his name about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Barbosa began staying in the abandoned home in one of Boca's most exclusive neighborhoods, located along an Intercostal Waterway canal, invoking an archaic state law called adverse possession. Adverse possession allows someone to gain title to a property if he or she is living there openly, maintaining it and paying the taxes.

Adverse possession filings have become more frequent as the foreclosure crisis has gripped South Florida and banks have a huge backlog of foreclosed homes that have not yet gone to the market.

But it appears that Barbosa's occupation has spawned copycats who have filed more than a half-dozen adverse possession notices in the Broward County Appraiser's Office since his case was publicized.

"It's opened the floodgates," said Mila Schwartzreich, co-counsel for the Broward County property appraiser.

Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish is now asking state legislators to strike the adverse possession law from the books, saying it's a law that was conceived when the state had vast swaths of agricultural land that would fall into disuse.

Neighbors say the Boca Raton mansion had been empty for about 18 months before Barbosa turned the lights on around Christmas time.

Singer said he doesn't think the law should be overturned because it serves a purpose. It promotes the upkeep of property and it clarifies situations as mundane as a neighbor's fence that's 2 feet over the property line.

"It's a useful statute and a good statute," he said. "It's been around for 700, 800 years for a reason."


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