A 5-bedroom 4-bath home in Fairfax, Virginia was recently added to Zillow. The space is 3,548 square feet and has some conditions.
The description on the listing opens: “CASH OFFERS ONLY NO ACCESS to see lower level and Home sold AS IS ONLY with acknowledgment that home will convey with a person(s) living in lower level with no lease in place.”
When buying the house, prospective buyers are not allowed to see the house’s lower level. Presumably, the 22 images included on the listing also do not show the lower level. To make matters even more complicated, this lower level contains a “person” or “persons” who will continue to maintain residence in the house if and when new buyers complete their purchase.
In addition to the accompanying “person(s)” of the house, the space would need significant attention before living there. The images of the home included on Zillow show the bathroom decorated with a brown-stained towel, a pair of jeans in the sink, a broken flowerpot on the deck, and small piles of trash everywhere.
The rest of the Zillow description provides specifics as to the house’s dilapidated state: “Dishwasher not working. Powder room toilet is shut off and it leaks in lower levels. […] Deck supports appear to be in good shape, not to today’s code and upper decking boards are in poor shape.”
“Home is livable but needs some TLC,” the listing description concludes.
The listing estimates proper renovations for the home would cost approximately $25k. Repairs would include attention to the extreme wood rot, added support for the deck stability, replacing the broken sliding glass door, a new coat of paint for the interior and exterior walls, and three new toilets, among more tasks sure to arise.
A commenter on Digg’s original article claimed to have called the listing manager to inquire about the property on behalf of a client looking to buy property in the Fairfax, Virginia region. They reportedly discovered the “Tenant is not a family member. She weaseled her way in on the premise of helping the owner. […] The tenant has a young kid and no lease, so eviction is going to be interesting.”
While the validity of this comment has not been investigated further, it is an interesting and not improbable sequence of events.
According to Virginia state law, squatter rights in Virginia require a squatter to live in a space for 15 continuous years before they can make an adverse possession claim to pursue ownership of the property (Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-236,237). It is uncertain how long the downstairs tenants have been living in this Fairfax property, but the eviction process for squatters is usually long and arduous.
Eviction typically begins with an eviction notice, of which there are many varieties. The most common notice is the “5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.” If the squatter does not pay the amount outlined in the eviction notice, the landowner must file an eviction through their local court system. Further hearings occur within the court system and can take years.
Other commenters on the article and on Twitter were having fun speculating about the “person(s)” in question, with one claiming “It contains a demon of the ancient world! A balrog! Fly you fools!” and another replied, “I choose to believe it’s a self-domesticated bear.”
Regardless of the squatter’s specific identity, the house has been taken off the market since its original listing on Zillow. It is uncertain whether the space has had difficulty passing appraisal or conversely that the house has been sold, but regardless, curious buyers will not find their luck at this address.
Interested in reading more about unlawful tenants? Click here to read about the squatter who decided to clean up the Grosvenor Hotel in Bristol.