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A Charlotte couple is in the middle of a legal nightmare.
They own a house out of state and someone is living in it, for free, without their permission. The homeowners want them out but confusion over the law is getting in the way.
The home has been on the market for four years, since Erick Waggoner and his ex-wife had to move to Charlotte. They landed here and a stranger landed in their home 1,500 miles away. Recently they got a call from a realtor.
"To get a phone call that says 'hey Erick someone is in your house', it is unbelievable," Waggoner said.
When confronted by a reporter in Colorado Springs Joel Riddle, the man living with his family in the Waggoner's home now, said the Waggoners were letting him stay as they worked out a deal. He even said he could produce some emails proving that to be true. Though, thus far, the reporter in Colorado Springs has not seen those emails.
The Waggoners tell a much different story.
"I have never given Joel keys or access to the home," Waggoner said.
They claim they kicked out their tenants of three years when Joel and his wife signed a contract to buy the home last July. The deal to sell never went through so the house went back on the market. Waggoner says Joel offered to "rent to own" the home. A lease deal was signed but Waggoner said it was voided.
The County Sheriff in that area has gone to the home and filed a criminal trespass report. Now a district attorney will decide if charges should be filed.
"It is consuming and draining. Nobody has the emotional time to spend working on something like this," said Laura Kirkham Waggoner, also an owner of the home.
Riddle has said he'll start moving out this weekend. We're following up on his claim.
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's office tells us they'd handle the case in a manner similar to what the Colorado sheriff's have done. Eventually this does become a matter for civil court, which can get expensive. The Waggoners advise if you own property out of town you should be sure you have someone who can keep a close eye on it.