DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A man has been arrested for allegedly living in a million dollar home he apparently doesn’t own, nor does he have a lease.
The home was one of many featured in a series of reports by 4 On Your Side Investigator Rick Sallinger in which abandoned houses have been taken over. It appears to be part of a much larger picture in which people are identifying homes under foreclosure, breaking in, and filing paper work claiming they own the homes.
Sergio Hernandez did not know what was coming next when he arrived at the courthouse. He has been living for months with his family in a million dollar house in the exclusive Bell Mountain Ranch area. Nobody legally sold or leased him the home — the family just moved in.
The same thing happened nearby at a home in Larkspur. Real estate agent Mark Sawyer was trying to sell the home when he found people living inside.
“These people claimed that they owned the property,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer said they claimed they owned the property under a law called “adverse possession.”
CBS4 found more than a dozen homes under foreclosure that have been taken over by people claiming they legally have rights to them under adverse possession. But in Colorado that means holding on to abandoned property for at least 18 years.
Hernandez had put his name on the home that had been subject to a short sale and later foreclosure. But instead of going to just a routine court appearance, he was placed under arrest. Douglas County sheriff’s deputies placed him in handcuffs on charges of burglary, attempted theft, trespassing and violation of a previous bail bond conditions.
“He’s getting what’s coming to him. They’re breaking into houses, taking possession illegally, and depriving owners of records of their right to quiet enjoyment of their home,” Sawyer said.
Court documents claim Hernandez told sheriff’s investigators “the issue with the property is bigger than either of us and involves corruption with the banks on a national level.”
It is an issue he may now have the chance to take up in court.
The million dollar house he has been living in still has $88,000 of property belonging to the previous owner.
Hernandez had earlier been arrested in connection with the home in Larkspur in this report.