A developer who got his hands on a house for absolutely nothing in a bizarre squatter’s rights case is now set to pocket more than $1 million.
A squatter who scored a Sydney home for absolutely nothing is now set to make more than $1 million from it after putting it up for sale.
Property developer and tax agent Bill Gertos rented out the Ashbury home, in the city’s inner west, for two decades and successfully claimed legal ownership this year after winning a Supreme Court appeal.
The three-bedroom home at 6 Malleny St is being marketed via a private treaty campaign with Mint Property Agents principal Paul Errichiello.
While Mr Errichiello declined to comment about the circumstances surrounding the sale, property records reveal Mr Gertos had recently been trying to quietly offload the home for around $1.51 million to $1.56 million.
This is $156,000 less than its estimated value at the time of a court case last year that ruled Mr Gertos had “squatter’s rights” under “adverse possession” laws.
The quirky law allows for individuals to be granted ownership of properties they have openly occupied for more than 12 years without permission of the owners. After discovering the home in 1998 while visiting a client on the same street, Mr Gertos occupied it for the next 19 years before making an application in 2017 to claim squatter’s rights with the NSW Registrar-General.
The bizarre case ended up in court after the family of Henry Thompson Downie, a deceased man who had bought the property in 1927, tried to challenge the ownership. The NSW Supreme Court ruled that Mr Gertos had lawful possession as he was “open and peaceful” about it, as required squatter’s right laws.
Mr Gertos, who was unable to be contacted, had previously told the court 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 $37,000 to renovate the home before renting it out.
CoreLogic records reveal that it was last listed for rent in February with a $594 per week asking price – $151 less than the average rental price for the area.
Mr Gertos spent $116,739 on renovations in 2014 to give the home a new kitchen with gas cooking and stainless European appliances, as well as a bathroom.
The listing ad describes the home as a “fusion of historical charm” with renovated interiors on a “tree-lined street”. Set on 498sqm, the home has an “entertainer’s backyard” and backs onto parks and the Canterbury Park Racecourse.
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