UK & World News
Florida: Battle To Remove Squatter From Mansion
Off-duty police guards have been hired by a resident of a wealthy Florida suburb amid a legal battle to oust a Brazilian squatter claiming ownership of a $2.5m (£1.6m) mansion.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Lyn Houston paid for the police protection as officials try to remove Andre Barbosa - known as 'Loki Boy' - after he moved into the sprawling abandoned home.
Mr Barbosa reportedly used the obscure adverse possession law to gain a foothold to ownership of the mansion, after the Bank of America foreclosed on the owners more than 18 months ago.
Under the law, squatters can gain title ownership if they live in an abandoned residence openly, maintain it and pay all relevant property taxes for a period of seven years.
According to the paper the annual taxes on the mansion in Boca Raton, 50 miles north of Miami, are currently $39,000 (£25,000).
Mr Barbosa, 23, moved into the five-bedroom property late last year after the foreclosure in July.
The Bank of America, which holds the title deed, has served Mr Barbosa with eviction documents in an attempt to get him and eight other residents out.
A local reporter entered the premises on Tuesday and discovered two women, apparently speaking Arabic with a Tunisian accent, in the kitchen.
A bank employee said it was exploring other legal options and Mr Barbosa had two weeks to address civil charges it brought over an alleged break and enter.
The palm-fringed home has a large marble entrance and a swimming pool but virtually no rear garden as it backs onto the Intracoastal Waterway.
A Google Street View image dated April 2011 shows three cars in the paved circular driveway and a woman, believed to be the previous owner, walking out of a garage.
Ms Houston, who has lived in the area since 1977, said: "We already know that he'll break and enter. I don't know if he's armed or not. He's an unknown and that's frightening."
She added: "I'm sleeping fine, but some of my neighbours aren't - he doesn't belong here and someone needs to take charge of the situation."
Ms Houston also said she was willing to pay for off-duty police protection for 24 hours a day if necessary.
Boca Raton police are allowed to be employed while off-duty for $33 (£21) an hour.
Publicity surrounding the case has apparently prompted copycat adverse property applications for other foreclosed homes.
"It has opened the floodgates," appraiser co-counsel Mila Schwartzreich told the Sun-Sentinel.
"Last year 39 forms were filed. This year, in January alone, we have received approximately seven forms."