Tonight, A man accused of squatting in local houses speaks out! He spoke exclusively today with WJBF News Channel Six's Dee Griffin.
When most people get a house they get approval from a bank as well as the homeowner and provide a down payment. When Timothy Pate gets a house he just changes the locks, makes repairs and claim it as his own. Yesterday, we spoke with a man who says Pate illegally took over his house. Pate is speaking up saying this is his way of helping a neighborhood being hurt by blight.
Single-handedly.. Timothy Pate claims he's trying to solve a problem that is plaguing this south Augusta neighborhood.
“This house right here has been sitting here for like two or three years. You see that window that has been cracked? It's like why? The neighborhood goes to crap. Why let that happen?” Pate explains.
He's talking about the Tullocks Hill neighborhood off Barton Chapel Road. For the past few weeks, Pate has been roaming the area taking over houses that are seemingly vacant and fixing what has been broken. “Fix these windows, put new appliances in there, paint them, put new carpets in them and rent them out.”
In one house, he has taken up the old carpet, painted the walls, and even replaced the lighting. He takes pride in his work. But there's one problem, he doesn't own the houses. Pate says, “If the property looks abandoned to you, you feel like you have a right to it, you get the property, file the correct paperwork and you're done.”
Pate says he's doing it under a portion of Georgia's law called adverse possession. It states that a person may gain ownership under certain circumstances. But this can only occur after seven years. Pate took over the houses a few weeks ago. “It's going to cost me seven hundred dollars just to do this carpet. Dee: well, if you have this money why not go ahead and rent a place of your own? I have a house. Dee: That you took over! Pate: Yes!” he says.
Most of the houses have been foreclosed and haven't been sold by the banks. So, Pate claims he's doing his part to tear down a problem with blight by fixing up houses and taking them over. He insists, “I'm improving this neighborhood. Why have an empty house sitting here with fences coming down like that's a prime example.”
A local realtor maintains that Pate doesn't have any rights to the houses and is breaking the law. Calls to the banks that own the houses.. were not returned.