A shameless squatter who occupied a vacant home that was not his has sold the home after getting the legal right to do so.
Keith Best was accused of legally stealing a 3-bedroom home in Newbury Park, London, for a whopping $650,000 after invading the home that belonged to a senior named Colin Curtis back in the early 2010s.
According to the reports, the home had been vacant since the late 90s when Curtis moved out. This was later observed by Best who moved in with his wife and child without permission and began treating the house as his own.
Best also submitted legal documents seeking adverse possession of the home that his family was squatting in despite being a trespasser at the time.
While his request was initially turned down due to squatting being illegal under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, Best was granted the home following an appeal that saw the High Court overrule the local Chief Land Registrar.
As the High Court argued, the Registrar’s ruling was “founded on an error of law” because it should have been treated as a “civil matter” under laws preceding the criminalization of squatting.
The judge also claimed that any private property could be possessed by a third party if they lived at the property for at least ten years without any “effective action” from the owner.
In Best’s case, Colin’s mother died without a will and he never realized he needed to submit documents to become the property’s administrator after he had moved out. While Colin continued to pay property taxes throughout the years, he never visited the home and failed to formally ask the squatter to move out before his right to adverse possession came into effect.
After becoming the owner of the home, Best sold the house to Atiq Hayat, 35, for $650,000.
“This property was sold to us by Keith Best who was the legal owner. His name appeared on all the documents related to this house and everything was done properly, and we have nothing to worry about,” the new owner said.
“I never met Mr Best, but my sisters did twice, when they came to see the property. It was in a very good condition, and he seemed like a very genuine man. The sale was done in the proper legal way through solicitors, so we didn’t have a lot to do with him.”
The turn of events that sparked fury across the country comes decades after Best started ‘caring’ for the home and after he argued in court that he earned the property by maintaining and looking after it for years.
“In 1997, I began work on the property. I then invested time and money into looking after the property. Since 2001, I have treated the house as my own,” he wrote in court documents.
As for Curtis, he still can’t believe he lost his mother’s home to a squatter despite paying taxes all those years.
“It’s not fair. The law is an ass. It’s like someone getting in your car then saying it’s theirs because they’re sitting in it,” he said after losing the case.
“People can’t believe it when I tell them. They don’t understand how anyone could get away with it.”
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