The 25-Year Foreclosure Case

Since October 1985, Patty Campbell of Okeechobee County, Florida, has seen seven great-grandchildren born, seen her mortgage pass through six different banks, and seen four presidents come and go—all while living in a foreclosed house. Campbell has managed to fight off banks for the past 25 years and stayed in her house, in what many Florida real-estate lawyers say is the longest foreclosure case they have ever heard of. Florida is one of 23 states that require foreclosures to be approved by a judge, and Campbell has challenged her foreclosure on a number of different legal reasons—which, no matter how minor they may seem, have prevented the bank from being able to seize her house. By now, Campbell can quote Florida civil-procedure statues by reference numbers and makes no apology for not paying her mortgage for 25 years, saying that if the banks had a case, they would have been able to oust her years ago. “They are not going to take this house,” Campbell said. “I intend to stay in this house and maintain it as my residence until I die.”