Imagine making yourself at home in an empty building, not having to pay for it and then selling it on for a mega £540,000.
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? And it’s a reality for this squatter who moved into a vacant place – in London no less.
Builder Keith Best had been working in East London when he spotted a three-bedroom semi-detached spot that was empty.
So, he decided to treat it as his own place, renovated it and formally moved in with his wife and kid back in 2012.
This of course is squatting – when someone deliberately enters a place without permission and lives there.
And then after spending a decent chunk of time living in the place, Best sold it – bagging himself an entire £140,000 profit.
But obviously it’s not all so happy and simple.
Best ended up being accused of effectively ‘stealing’ the property from pensioner Colin Curtis, who used to live their with his mum before moving out in the late 90s.
After the builder had moved in, he applied for permanent possession of the property – which he won following an appeal.
This all happened despite the judge accepting the bloke had committed criminal trespass of the place worth about £400,000 at the time.
Saying ‘everything was done properly’ with the sale of the house, the new owner admitted they didn’t know about the place’s controversial past until MailOnline told them.
Atiq Hayat said: “I don't understand how something like this can happen. How can you just take over an empty house and make it your own, isn't that theft?
“I’m quite shocked at hearing how Mr Best got this home. He never said anything to us, but why would he?
"Some neighbours have mentioned it to us in the past, but we've never heard the full details. It's crazy to think that you can see an empty home and just take it over and the court is OK with that.”
In 2014, Mr Justice Ouseley overruled Best’s initial adverse possession claim being denied.
Best’s claim came only a few weeks after squatting in residential properties was criminalised in 2012, and Justice Ouseley ruled the old legislation should apply.
Adding to the mess, Curtis (who passed away in 2018) launched a counter claim.
Unfortunately for him, his mum had died without a will and he’d never registered to apply to be an administrator of her estate, therefore he had no legal right to fight for ownership of the property.
The neighbours who remember the mother and son weren’t impressed, as they told MailOnline: “There is no way Best should have got his hands on it for free.”
Despite claiming ‘Doris would have been turning in her grave’ over the matter, they’re happy to see the place be ‘a loving home’.
The new owner added: “It's very sad to hear about how this house was at the centre of so much trouble. But it just goes to show the importance of looking after any property that is in your family.”Featured Image Credit: Eastnews Press Agency