BALTIMORE, MD (WJZ/CNN) – Keith Mills stood outside the house he owns, but legally, he can’t go in.
“I’m shocked. It’s a little alarming,” said Mills, a contractor who was living inside the home as he renovated it, A few days ago, he got an unwelcome surprise. Someone had cut off the lock box – the device that gives realtors and contractors access to a home – and then changed the locks.
“I went on vacation for about 10 days, and when I came back, I came back to find out that I had house guests,” Mills said.
The people inside rented the home from a mystery person on Craiglist. 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,” Mills said.
Baltimore County officials say they’ve seen cases like this in the past, and state officials are well aware of the problem.
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,” said Steven Sakamoto-Wengel of the AG’s office.
Mills says his court date is next month, but if the tenants voluntarily leave, he’d be happy to drop the case. He said he hired a lawyer to help him through the process.
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