A Wisconsin woman and a troubled doctor are locked in a battle for some prime real estate.
The woman is 27-year-old Ashley Carman. Last year, Carman noticed a gorgeous – though seemingly abandoned – home on the shore of Lake Eerie. One day, she decided to look inside the house. Though the home was gorgeous on the outside, it was falling apart inside.
There were holes in the ceiling of the home. Animals were living inside, the furnace wasn’t working, the plumbing needed replacing, and the interior was stripped bare. To top it off, a sewage pipe had burst beneath the home and filled it with a foul stench.
After looking up some information on the home, Carman discovered it belonged to Dr. Oscar Linares. Linares is currently facing charges for defrauding the healthcare system of millions of dollars and illegally distributing narcotic pain pills.
Figuring Linares would soon be headed to prison for a long time, Carman took advantage of Wisconsin’s squatter’s rights laws. Squatter’s rights laws are a class of adverse possession laws that grant a person ownership of a property if they occupy and maintain a property for a specified amount of time.
Carman knows that if she openly lives on Linares’ property for 15 years and pays all taxes and utilities on the home, she will be granted legal ownership of the plot. That is exactly what she intends to do.
“I’m not trying to steal this home,” Carman said. “I am not a malicious person. I am an opportunist.”
Carman, who is both working and going to nursing school, has put over $40,000 into the home since moving in. The utilities are in her name and she is offering to pay $45,000 in past-due property taxes Linares owes.
Last weekend, a familiar face showed up at the home: Dr. Linares.
Carman claims Linares broke two doors in his attempt to get into the house. Once inside, she says he went through her personal belongings. Linares feels no remorse. After all, it’s technically his house.
“It’s unbelievable,” Linares said. “Can you imagine moving into someone else’s home? She just moved in.”
Linares and his legal team are trying to evict Carman and her daughter from the property, but Carman has no intentions of leaving.
“I did my research,” she said. “This house was going to sit abandoned. I put a lot of money into it.”
Under squatter’s rights laws, a person can live in a home as long as there is no lien on the property and the utilities are not in anyone’s name. Linares’ home meets all these qualifications.
“I have no preconceived notions,” Carman said. “This house was abandoned. I fixed it up. I wanted to do everything legal.”
Linares has hired Julia Smith of Farmington Hills to help him maintain ownership of his house.
“This was not at all abandoned,” Smith said. “There is no way he’s going to abandon it.”
With all of the time and money Carman has put into the home, she is hoping to work out a deal with Linares to buy the property.
“I thought it would be mine after 15 years,” she said. “But I feel like this is my house. I put my heart into it. And I want this to be my home.”