“We understand this is your home. But why can’t we…”
One of life’s most stressful and emotion events is selling your longtime home. So when Marietta, Georgia, resident Dena Everman signed a contract to close on the sale of her home of 11 years on June 26, she thought the hard part was over.
Little did she know that her difficulties had only begun. When she dropped by the day before the closing, she found a family living in the property.
“I went by the home on June 25 to say, ‘goodbye,’ to my home,” Everman told WXIA. “When I drove up, there was a different car in the driveway and it looked like somebody was in my home.”
Someone was, and not just a single person. A woman named Tamera Pritchett, her fiancé, and her two children had moved in.
Everman thought a quick visit to the authorities would clear the matter up. Unfortunately, it only made the situation more challening.
According to Georgia law, if an individual or family sets up residence in another’s property, the owner must go through the eviction process to remove them. A simple call to the police won’t suffice.
Attorney Brian Douglas explained the statue to WXIA, saying, “At the end of the day, the law is always going to side with the homeowner. … [But squatters] have the right not to just be thrown out arbitrarily; just willy-nilly, just tossed out onto the street.”
For Pritchett’s part, she maintains that her family isn’t squatting at all. “We’re not squatters,” she said.
“We have documents. We have keys,”
It turns out that Pritchett found the property listed for rent on Craigslist. She signed rental agreements online, paid $3,000 in rent via wire transfer, and received keys in the mail.
“At the end of the day, yes, we got scammed,” Pritchett said. “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.”
In an interview with WSBTV, Pritchett added, “[Police] told us that, until these people come and properly evict us, they can’t force us out . . . We’re not just trying to stay here in your home or hold you up on the sale, but at the same time, we just spent $3,000.”
Fortunately, on July 28, Everman was finally able to report on Facebook that her house sold. She still had to shoulder all court costs related to the eviction, though.
For her part, Everman wants such eviction laws changed. Perhaps her experience will help spur some much-needed reforms.