BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In an online deal gone wrong, a Baltimore County contractor says strangers moved into his property, but now he has to go to court before he can get them out.
The renters say they have a right to be there after they made an agreement with someone on Craigslist.
Ava-joye Burnett reports why police say they cannot evict the people, even though the homeowner says he has no idea who they are.
The contractor says he was out of town and when he returned to the house in Pikesville, the locks had been changed and strangers had settled in.
“I’m shocked. It’s a little alarming.”
Keith Mills is standing outside the house he owns, but legally he can’t go in.
Mills says he’s a contractor and was living inside the Pikesville home as he renovated it.
But a few days ago, he got an unwelcome surprise. Someone had cut off the lock box and then changed the locks.
The lock box typically gives realtors and contractors access to a home when the owner is absent.
“I went away on vacation for about 10 days, and when I came back, I came back to find out that I had house guests,” says Mills.
Mills tells WJZ the people inside rented the home from a mystery person on Craigslist, and as the law stands…
Because they refuse to leave, Mills now has to go to court to prove he’s the rightful owner.
“It’s weird that I have to ask them for permission to enter into my home and for the basic things even to just see that my stuff is still there, just to go inside the door,” says Mills.
Baltimore County officials say they’ve seen case like this in the past and this is a problem state officials are also very well aware of.
So who rented someone else’s property on Craigslist?
The Maryland Attorney General’s office says finding the crooks and prosecuting them could be difficult. They may even be out of the country.
“Unfortunately, the person who is leasing the property is also a victim in this case, because they believe they were renting a unit that they have the right to rent,” says Steven Sakamoto-Wengel, with the Attorney General’s Office
Mills says his court date is next month, but if the tenants voluntarily leave, he’d be happy to drop the case.
Mills says he hired a lawyer to help him through this process.