The Real Deal Miami

Tenants fall for squat-to-own scheme

July 19, 2010 12:00PM

The area is on pace for 70,000 foreclosure actions this year

A Wellington company has been turning would-be lessors into unwitting
squatters, by renting out foreclosed properties it did not own with
phony lease-to-buy schemes. Carole-Ann Higgs thought she was on a
lease-to-buy track when she signed a 12-month lease on a Seminole Manor
home, but she didn’t know that the company that leased it to her, Saving
Palm Beach Homes, Inc., didn’t own the home. Instead, it was trying to
take advantage of a law called adverse possession, which gives title to
those who file a claim to a property, even if they do not own it, if
they occupy the property continuously for seven years, pay its taxes and
care for the property. The company was incorporated by Mark Guerette, a
Wellington resident, who has been charged with one count of organized
scheme to defraud over $20,000. [Palm
Beach Post]