A woman sent a certified, notarized letter to the Ada County Sheriff's Office on March 26 saying that she had paid the taxes on a $340,000 home on South Cloverdale Road and would be living there henceforth.
After determining that the property was owned by a bank after a foreclosure, sheriff's deputies went to the rural home and told the woman that she had no legal right to be there. When deputies demanded that she leave, she refused.
On Thursday, deputies returned with warrants and arrested Tara Mashburn, 44, and her 21-year-old son, Kassidy McDaid, and charged them with unlawful entry and trespassing, both misdemeanors. Four children living in the house were sent to stay with other relatives.
Officials say Mashburn might have been attempting a real estate scheme similar to those that have gained traction elsewhere in the country, especially with foreclosed homes.
Under the plan, a person attempts to use a real estate law called "adverse possession." The person pays taxes on a property and then possesses it; if they can do it long enough, they might be able to claim legal title.
The Cloverdale case is the first he knows of in Ada County, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Roger Bourne said.
$2,000 IN PROPERTY TAXES
Officials say that Mashburn walked into the Ada County Courthouse on March 19 and paid the property taxes on the Cloverdale home and its 12 acres, using three postal money orders totaling about $2,000.
About the same time, Mashburn and her children moved into the 3,000-square-foot home and changed the locks, the sheriff's office said.
Mashburn has no known connection to the home, which Bank of America has owned since foreclosing in August, officials said.
The property taxes on the home, assessed at $339,700, were not delinquent; the next payment was not due until June, according to the county treasurer's office.
The most notable recent case of people attempting to use the adverse possession plan, sometimes called squatter's rights, occurred in Boca Raton, Fla., where a man tried to claim ownership of a $2.5 million home.
In her letter to the Ada County sheriff, Mashburn used language similar to what's been used in national cases, claiming that she had paid the property taxes and had a right to the home and its land, said Ada County sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Dearden.
Under Idaho's adverse possession law, a person who occupies improved or fenced property and pays taxes on the property for 20 years may claim ownership of the property even without the owner's consent, according to county officials.
The law usually is used to remedy accidents and oversights, experts say. For example, if a property line fence was misplaced and for at least 20 years the owner paid taxes on and maintained the property, that owner can claim adverse possession and take the property.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell