Developer who was awarded a $1.7m home for FREE under 'squatter's rights' law ...

A property developer who was awarded a $1.7million home for free under an obscure 'squatter's rights' law has won a Supreme Court appeal case to keep it.

Bill Gertos was granted rights to the home in Ashbury in Sydney's inner west after moving in and renting it out following the death of 'protected tenant' Phyllis Grimes.

Ms Grimes had inherited the property from Henry Thompson Downie, who died in 1947 without leaving a will. 

Mr Downie's descendants withdrew their appeal against the lower court decision on Tuesday just one day before they were due to hear the outcome. 

Bill Gertos (pictured) has won a Supreme Court appeal case to keep a $1.7million home for free under squatter's rights

Bill Gertos (pictured) has won a Supreme Court appeal case to keep a $1.7million home for free under squatter's rights

Mr Gertos told the court he spent $35,000 fixing up the house (pictured) and within weeks was paying rates, water levies and land tax. He began renting it out to tenants, which he has continued to do for 20 years - all without ever having his name legally on the property's papers

Mr Gertos told the court he spent $35,000 fixing up the house (pictured) and within weeks was paying rates, water levies and land tax. He began renting it out to tenants, which he has continued to do for 20 years - all without ever having his name legally on the property's papers

The legal battle stems back to November 2017, when the Downie family were informed one of their relatives owned the property. 

By then, Mr Gertos had already had ownership of the home for nearly two decades.

Having learned that the elderly woman who previously lived there had died, he decided to make it his own in 1998. 

Mr Gertos claimed at the time the door was 'hanging off its hinges' and when he looked inside the house was in such bad shape it was 'uninhabitable'. 

He told the court he spent $35,000 fixing up the house and within weeks was paying rates, water levies and land tax. 

He began renting out the home to tenants, which he has continued to do for 20 years - all without ever having his name legally on the property's papers. 

At the same time, he was declaring rental income on his taxes and in 2014 spent $108,000 on further renovations, according to records he showed the court.

By 2017, he was ready to press his claim under a law that states a squatter can be deemed the owner of a property if they live there for more than 12 years.

Mr Henry Downie was the last owner of the property. He died in 1947 without leaving a will. His descendants (pictured) withdrew their appeal against the lower court decision on Tuesday

Mr Henry Downie was the last owner of the property. He died in 1947 without leaving a will. His descendants (pictured) withdrew their appeal against the lower court decision on Tuesday

The NSW Registrar-General notified Mr Downie's family that Mr

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Manchester becomes the first British city to lose a THIRD of its Green Belt ...
NEXT Protesters set fire to U.S. Embassy in Honduras in second day of demonstrations