Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ohio Man Learns You Can't Just Walk Into An Empty House And Call It Yours

This year's Chutzpah Award goes to a guy named Robert Carr in Ohio, who has decided that if nobody has been in a particular house for awhile, he can walk in, change the locks and claim it's his.
Robert Carr, who think he can just take houses for free.
Police have other opinions. Add caption

Apparently, he's been trying to do this for awhile, but the antics finally blew up in his face in the past couple of weeks.

A family in Springdale, Ohio, left town for a number of days to visit a dying relative, according to television station WLWT in Cincinnati.

When they came back, they discovered Carr had emptied their possessions from the house and changed the locks, according to WLWT. 

Carr seems to think that since the family hadn't been there in several days (or maybe even a few weeks) they "abandoned" the house and he could take ownership of it through a process called "quiet title"

"When you abandon a property, bam, walk away from it, 'I ain't never coming back. I don't want nothing to do with it,' right? Somebody can come in, 'Oh mine,' Carr told WLWT reporter Karin Johnson.

He says he can have the house for free.

WLWT said Carr has done this same tactic with at least 11 other properties. Carr says he's got a team helping him with this enterprise.

Well, it's not working out so well for Carr and his alleged team. After WLWT's story came out, Carr was charged with three counts of breaking and entering and three counts of theft. More charges could be pending.

You have to admire Carr's persistence, though. According to The Raw Story, Carr has responded to the charges by saying he "rejected" them and the "offer is not accepted."

Since when are criminal charges an offer? Police charge you with a crime and you say "No, thank you and the police go away? I don't think that's how it works.

According to Raw Story: "He also charged Forest Park, Ohio police with a lengthy, handwritten list of civil rights violations against him, including kidnapping "upon the inheritance of (his) free will as a man identified as a U.S. citizen."

Carr apparently belongs to a movement called sovereign citizen, in which they believe they decide what  laws to obey based on their interpretation of the Constitution.

Um, Mr. Carr? It doesn't work that way, either.  What if someone decided to commit a crime against you, say, robbery, and said I don't have to obey anti-robbery laws. What would you say to that?

Again, you have to admire Carr's chutzpah, but still.

Back to his house seizures:

There is actually a legal document called a quiet title, but it's not at all the way Carr envisions it. According to the Free Legal Dictionary, people can use a quiet title proceeding to remove a "cloud" from a potential property transaction.

A quiet title is basically a device to make it clear who owns the property and who the property is being transferred to.

The plaintiff has to prove he has a legal case to obtain the property, and it's up to the plaintiff to prove it.  So no, Mr. Carr, you can't just go into a house and say it's yours unless there's a compelling legal case that you are entitled to it.

So, just to review: If your next door neighbor goes away on vacation for a few weeks and nobody's in their house during that time, you can't just take the neighbor's house.

You have to find something else for a Christmas gift to yourself.

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