Squatters claim Manitoba couple's Texas vacation home
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2012 8:25AM EST
A retired Manitoba couple will be in a Texas court on Wednesday morning facing off against squatters who have allegedly taken up residence in the couple's vacation home.
Lee and Ines Harrison have owned a mobile home in Donna, Tx. for the past 12 years, travelling south each year to spend the winter in their quaint and cozy getaway.
However the Harrisons, who are in their late 70s, decided this would be their last winter in Texas, as the drive was getting to be too difficult.
They put the home up for sale in August of last year, and soon received a call at their Lac du Bonnet, Man. home from a woman who said she was interested in purchasing the property.
The woman put down a $2,500 deposit, and the Harrisons asked a neighbour to give the woman a key so she could take a look at the mobile home.
But instead of returning the key and paying the rest of the asking price, the woman allegedly kept the key and moved into the home with her boyfriend, telling neighbours she now owned the home, the Harrisons told CTV Winnipeg.
"Our fear is that we're going to lose everything," said Lee Harrison.
The Harrisons travelled to Texas in November and found their furniture had been sold and the Texas couple was claiming squatters' rights, refusing to leave or even to let the Harrisons inside the home.
The couple has been in Texas since November, staying in hotels while they attempt to sort through the legalities of evicting the squatters.
They hope a Texas judge will rule in their favour Wednesday.
In December 2011, a Texas judge presiding over a similar case ruled in favour of the property owners and ordered the eviction of a family of squatters who had moved into a vacant home.
Texas law allows squatters to move into property that has been abandoned for five years or more under a concept known as "adverse possession," or more commonly as "squatter's rights."
Squatters must remain in possession of the property for between three and 25 years, according to the Texas law firm Roberts and Roberts, depending on the circumstances, in order to make a successful bid for ownership.
However, if the rightful owner can prove the squatters' occupation has effectively been an act of trespassing, and the property itself was never truly abandoned, the squatters' bid is likely to be quashed, the law firm said on its website.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg's Caroline Barghout