Dena Everman was at a good place in her life. After living in a small home in Marietta, GA for 11 years, Everman was ready for a change. She sold the home and was preparing for the next step in her life until she made a fateful visit to the home she once lived in. Everman wanted to stop in to visit the home one more time before the new owners took possession, but the visit exposed the fact that there was a family already living in her home. This was a family of strangers, someone neither she or the new owners gave permission to be in the home.
One might think it would be easy to get people who had no authorization to live in the house out, but this is an odd situation. The laws in Georgia left Everman fighting to regain her home and the current uninvited residents claiming their right to stay.
While Everman fights to get her home back, there is also a couple who purchased the home that can not take ownership. The law defines the family living in the house as being “squatters” who have taken possession of the empty house. They are not a tradition squatter though; they did, in fact, pay someone to move into the house. One of the new residents, Tamera Pritchett, spent a total of $3,000 in move in costs to someone she thought was the owner to cover rent and move in costs.
Pritchett found the fake rental on craigslist.org, where she contacted someone who was impersonating the owner. They most likely saw the house was for sale and realized there was no one living there. The scammer collected a wire transfer from Pritchett and delivered keys to the house.
Pritchett moved into the house with her fiancé and two children. They lived in the home for two weeks before they were told about the problem. In that time they were unaware of any issue with the ownership of the house and had a signed rental agreement in hand. It came as a total shock to the family when Everman stopped into visit and told them it was her house. They were told that the person they rented the home from co-owned the home with Everman and was charged with caring for the rental home. When Everman found the family living in the home, she attempted just to throw them out.
The night before the new owners were set to take possession of the house, Pritchett and her family were kicked out of the house at 11:30 at night. The police were called, but in the long run, they decided that they could not arrest the family for a crime. This was not a case of breaking and entering as Everman had reported to the police. Everman explained the police activity:
“At this point, I’m the legal owner of the property and I shouldn’t have to expend this energy to get someone out that I did not give permission to be in my home. The police officers… decided it wasn’t breaking-and-entering at that point even though there was a broken window and changed locks and I had the deeds to my home and proof that it was my home.”
Even with the deed in hand, that was not enough to force the Pritchett family out. The new owners are stuck in the middle as Everman and Pritchett argue over the move out dates for the family. The new owners can not move in until the house is vacant. They are having to pay storage fees for their belongings and have essentially become homeless. Their best option so far is to stay with friends and wait out the problem.
While many locals have hassled Pritchett and her family for staying in the home, she is quick to remind them that there are several victims in this case. As she explains:
“I’ve dealt with people harassing me. Threatening me and my family like we’re not the victim. At the end of the day, both sides were victimized by the situation. At the end of the day, yes, we got scammed. We understand that. We understand this is your home. But why can’t we be adults and try to figure this out and go after this person that scammed us and is obviously out here scamming your name and your home.”