A squatter, Bill Gertos was in the process of adding at least $1 million to his name if he could find a buyer for his 3-bedroom residential property in Sydney, New South Wales.
Gertos, a property and tax agent got the house for nothing. According to reports, he was in search for property in the Ashbury area when he came across the building. Upon enquiry, he was told the house has no occupant ― the former occupant was late.
He gained access to the derelict house through a back door that had been “hanging off its hinges”. The next day he had the locks changed and paid a builder $35,000 to renovate the home before renting it out.
According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, he spent $108,000 on renovations in 2014 to give the home a new kitchen with gas cooking and stainless European appliances, as well as a bathroom.
CoreLogic records reveal that the house was last listed for rent in February with a $550 per week asking price, about $140 lesser than the average rental price for the area.
Dispute ensued when Gertos listed the house for sale. The family of a man named Henry Thompson Downie protested that Gertos has no right to claim the house, According to them, the late Downie purchased the property in 1927.
Gertos, however, prevailed at the Sydney court, thanks to the country’s old law which allows for individuals to be granted ownership of properties they have openly occupied for more than 12 years without the permission of the owners.
Since Gertos already occupied the house since 1998 after discovering it while visiting a client on the same street. His 2017 file for application to claim squatters right was granted.
This was in spite of Downie’s family claim that Gertos did not live in the house but instead have been renting it to others.