MIAMI (CBS4) – Time is run out.

That’s the message from Miami Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera who said he is taking aim against alarming numbers of men and women filing adverse possession claims on vacant homes that they are moving into with the intent of taking ownership.

Lopez-Cantera likens it to a nightmare.

“It’s becoming one,” he told CBS4 News Chief Investigator Michele Gillen.”Many people are taking advantage of a very old law, playing the numbers… they might end up with a free house.”

He’s talking about a law from the 1800’s which was supposed to deal with abandoned property. His office has just released a list showing the cancelation of 71 adverse possession applications.

On the list is the name is Hermania Johnson.

Gillen visited Johnson last month and asked her if she filed for adverse possession of the house she was living in.

She answered yes. But in response to the question of whether she had she paid any taxes for the house?

“Not yet,” was Johnson’s response.

According to Lopez-Cantera, time has run out for folks like Johnson. She is one of dozens who have moved into homes and filed for adverse possession.

According to records the county is making public, she filed last November.

When asked who owns the home that she claims to have invested money in fixing up?

“Only God can know,” said Johnson.

But Miami- Dade County disagrees and argues that it knows who the owner is and that the owner has paid taxes on the property, therefore nullifying the application for adverse possession.


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