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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / Requirements for a legal residence?
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Rdsrds123
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 10:40
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I see old cabins and old houses in various conditions. All need repairing but some look livable with minimal costs. I am wondering why not buy one of these. Could not afford to do the permit thing. I suppose most of these abandoned structures will revert to disolve back into the earth. How is it considered by jurisdictions for legally living in such a place?

zorro
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 11:35
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Most Towns will have a number of requirements before you can live in them;

Certificate of Occupation
Certificate of Habitation
Certificate of Completion
etc, etc

and most of the above will require certain items to get that certificate - size, permits for septic, water, electric, etc, etc

Most will also require you to pay taxes, evidence that the structure is sound/safe

I am fairly sure you cant simply purchase an old/repairable cabin and assume residency without due consideration to a number of the items above............least not legally (or until caught!!)

ICC
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 11:57 - Edited by: ICC
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Quoting: Rdsrds123
How is it considered by jurisdictions for legally living in such a place?


Many counties have an online property search for tax records. That can tell you who the legal owner is. Start there. You can't legally live in an existing place without permission of some kind.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 12:41
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I agree that a fixer-upper that has been in use and on the tax rolls already may be a whole lot easier to start with. Our 1880's vintage home and our cabin were that way and we have been using both and improving as time and goes by.
Worked for us, ymmv.

Rdsrds123
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 19:46
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I belong to several FB pages with titles similar as "Abandoned in Virginia." Lots of interesting cabins and semi-dilapidated structures. Not currently lived in and very rural. I am sure many had a water source and at least an outhouse. Roofs still hold out water on some. Could be on tax rolls or just forgotten about. These are what I'm talking about here. Buy it from an owner. Clean it up and slowly fix it up. Never going to be comparable to new. How legal would living in something such be? Was probably originally lived in 50 years or more.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 21:08 - Edited by: ICC
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Here in NM all the titles for non-public lands are held by someone or some entity; a person or a private trust, a corporation of some kind, the county or town if the land was seized for non payment of taxes. Someone or something has the title.

It is possible to claim what appears to be abandoned land. The rules vary widely between states. It is possible to make claims stick in some locations. Usually one needs to have paid the applicable taxes, including back taxes from before you decided to squat on that piece of land. The required time interval varies widely; 10 years in NM, 18 in CO, 15 in VA, and so on. In that interim you could be legally ejected and lose any improvements you made.

I am not a gambler so I guess I just don't see the attraction to squat. I do like exploring the back country, old townsites and buildings, have even researched ownership.

Enquiring about who holds title to an apparently abandonded property at the county assessors office should produce the owners name and last known mailing address. Land just doesn't get forgotten about by county government. They all have a process where when taxes are unpaid for a certain time the parcels are put up for auction. Sometimes the title can be had for payment of a few years taxes. Sometimes there may be a bidding war depending on desirability.

Land can be "lost" when the owner dies and does not leave a will or list of what they own. That can be hard to sort out. The county will send notices of delinquent taxes to the address they have. After three years if they have no success the property goes to auction. We have bought a couple of parcels in that manner over the past several decades. No auctions have been held in my county during the past year due to Covid19. The last auction here had over 150 properties listed, about a dozen were paid just before the auction date and most went for the owed taxes. A few properties had 2 or 3 bidders. A couple had no takers at all.

Rdsrds123
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 21:59
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Not squatting. I would buy the cabin/house fix it up and live in it.I can find owners using online real estate database or even ask neighbors.. Would not consider living in a place wo permission. Not a chance. Not sure I'm communicating my question here correctly.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 22:27
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Sorry, but I construed what you were staying to mean you would move into an abandoned building and hope for the best. Buying something abandoned still puts you into the position of deciding to comply with codes and rules. Or not.

If you meant how does one find the legal owner in order to legally become the owner I did cover that to some degree. In many counties anyone can start the search online at no cost. Some may require a registration, but there should be no cost for looking. Ownership is public information as is whether or not taxes are delinquent or not. Actual names of owners can be behind trusts, corporations, etc. The land records at the county is still a starting point.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 22:28
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We bought our current cabin and property after the owner died and his adult daughter, out of state, put it up for sale (kind of an 'estate' thing) as she had no way to deal with the property, clean-up, etc. and perhaps had no attachment or interest in it.
A bit of 'wisdom' I remember (Dave Ramsey?) is:
Dont buy a distressed property, buy from a distressed seller. We had some of both working for us.....
Make a list of the 'features' you want in a property, those 'fixed' and those negotiable, and go look for a place. When you find it, find out who owns it and go from there.
Good hunting

Rdsrds123
Member
# Posted: 30 Apr 2021 22:38
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Any kind of real estate is especially difficult to find and buy these days anywhere. Properties sell in days and for sale signs are seldom seen or needed. Just trying to find a source of properties. Distressed owner and not distressed property is a great idea. The market is tightest historically now. Great time to sell me a cabin.

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