Usually about now I update my profit/loss, but this segment really needs its own post. I like to keep things as short as I can. Not sure where to start in order to best do that, I really need to start at the start. Anyway, bare with me, I’ll get through this the quickest I can.
Earlier this month I was watching The Project when a story about a squatter in the Adelaide Hills came on. 126 year old, 2 bedroom cottage, guy squatting in it, this story really intrigued me. It was a number of things that resonated to be honest; old school architecture, someone homeless, Aussie battler, significance in our short history of squatting, my connection with rural land and a modern day Ned Kelly squatter type story.
I wanted to see Iain stay in there, so I donated $50 to the GoFundMe page. I followed closely to see how it panned out for him and when the donations plateaued around $3000 (10% of the required amount), I emailed Iain and asked him to contact me if he fell short of his target. My original plan was find 6 people to chip in $5k each and help him out (the bill was smaller then). I got an email from him on the 10th of this month asking to call. I remember getting it, but I was busy and thought I would remember to call him back, I didn’t. Fast forward to the 24th of May at 2.39pm and I got another email from Iain; “Please call me – the auction is tomorrow – ran short – tried everything can think of”.
With the hammer due to go down at 11am the next day, time was short. Seriously short. After a limited chat to Iain I moved on to some fact checking. Without the boring details everything looked like it stacked up. Iain had been truthful to me about everything really, good signs. In the end it came down to a punt on a guy I’ve never met before, hell, 3 hours ago I had never even spoken to him.
A poker friend of mine Abe Limon () once told me “I don’t believe in instinct or gut feelings. To me, its just the information you have gathered and processed to come up with a decision that feels right”. I’ve lived by that idea ever since he told it to me. Being able to rationalise my “gut feelings” has helped me immensely in my profession. In this decision my gut was telling me to “go for it”, I can tell you all the reasons but I think in the end there was one point that stuck out to me. I was told by someone close to Iain that would like to remain anonymous that Iain had mentioned; “it was getting a little scary and I think I’m going to have to end it all”. That statement struck a cord with me, although unsure if it was in regards to the squatting, life in general or maybe both, I didn’t like the sound of it. It sounded like a guy who was at the end after doing all that he could. Homeless in the Hills of Adelaide during the winter, that’s pretty rough.
The biggest problem for me was the $40,000 would be most of my cash reserves. On top of that, I had money in accounts all over the place, I’d not have been able to get it out in time. Although not broke, the pressure would have been on. Fortunately, another member of the public had also heard of the story and wanted to help. This person wishes to remain anonymous but without that person this would never have happened.
I slept on it, admittedly though I was favouring doing it. I’m glad I slept though (wasn’t my best nights sleep) but the sleep I got gave me a much clearer mind. I explained to the other contributor that I would be stretching myself to thin in the interim. After some back and forward it was agreed that I would pay $10,000 today with the remaining $10,000 to be paid back to the other financial contributor. Not only did this person put trust in Iain but me too, serious show of faith in destiny, cool stuff. The pressure was off and we were both happy to roll the dice.
The rates were paid and the auction was cancelled. There were apparently close to 200 people that turned up to the auction only to be told “the auction is cancelled”. Now, I know some people’s ideas on ‘squatting’ legitimacy will vary. Thats ok, nothing wrong with differing views but the laws/ loophole is there and there is nothing illegal about what Iain is doing. For fucks sake the guy is keeping a 126 year old, 2 bedroom cottage from falling in on itself and he has a roof over his head. The guy is a little eccentric, but you’d have to be to squat I’d say. From what I know, I think some people are a little angered about it, but I think in time this will settle and they will be pleasantly surprised with how the property looks in very little time at all.
Where to from here, well, long way to go yet. There is nothing formal between the three parties at this stage. We will form some action plans after the media have calmed down. In terms of Iain becoming the rightful owner of the place, he is going to be applying for what is called “adverse possession”. Its a bit of a grey area but in a nutshell if you live in a place for a significant amount of time (different state to state), without consent from the owner of the property, you can claim title. In this case the owner died in the home, the next of kin has not been able to be reached/ they haven’t come forward, therefore, Iain is staying in the home without consent. In South Australia its 15 years, he has been there for over 1 year already, so it could be 14 more years of waiting before we see the application rubber stamped. It could be sooner though too, time will tell.
Some people think I’m crazy, this doesn’t prove that. Truth is I’ve always been crazy, but this is some kind of story and to be honest, I want to be a part of the journey, even if it costs me $20,000. Money comes and goes but experiences and stories are with you for life.
Stay tuned on this one, there is more to come I’m sure! Leave me a comment on what you think about squatting or any other part of this story.
Links and references for more background: