Man is forced to transfer title to a $125,000 lot in Delaware to the neighbor who built GOAT PEN on real estate, then claimed the squatter’s rights when he tried to redevelop it
- Burton Banks, an Atlanta financial advisor, inherited from his father several properties in Ocean View, Delaware
- Banks wanted to sell part of the property in 2021, but learned that his neighbor Melissa Schrock had let her goats graze on the land
- A judge ruled last month that Schrock had lived on the property for more than 20 years and therefore also had squatter rights: Banks was forced to cede the land
A Delaware judge has ordered a businessman to turn over a $125,000 piece of land to his neighbor after she kept her goats on the land for more than 20 years and claimed the squatter’s rights.
Burton Banks, an Atlanta-based financial advisor, inherited the uninhabited tract of land in Ocean View, Delaware, from his father Ralph.
In 2021, Banks decided he wanted to sell the land.
But he found that about two-thirds of an acre was used by his neighbor Melissa Schrock, who had set up a pen for her goats on the land.
“It’s just always been my backyard since I was a little kid,” Schrock said.
Burton Banks (left) wanted to sell the land, only to find his neighbor Melissa Schrock was claiming the squatter’s rights – thanks to a goat pen she had put up on the lot
The home of Schrock, who grazed her goats on her neighbors’ land and won squatter rights
Schrock’s house in Ocean View, Delaware
Banks took her to court to try to reclaim the land, but Schrock claimed the squatter’s rights.
Supreme Court Justice Craig Karsnitz ruled in favor of Schrock in February, noting that Banks lived mostly in Atlanta and came to the Delaware facility “only occasionally.”
Karsnitz felt that Schrock had passed the threshold of proving her 20-year appeal, Delaware online reported.
Banks said he spoke out to warn others to take action and make sure their property was not squatted.
“I can’t afford the profession,” Banks said. “But (I hope) I can at least warn others.”
Banks produced a map of the property showing his claim
Serena Williams, a law professor at Widener University in Delaware who specializes in housing law, said property owners should be vigilant.
“Inspect it regularly,” Williams said.
“If you see something you didn’t allow — a tree you didn’t plant, objects you didn’t put there — make sure you remove it, because that’s the start of unwanted possession.”