Squatters rights versus owners rights; Who has the law on their side?

Homeowner vs. Squatter: What happens next?

It's a story that pits homeowner versus renter, and one that has everyone taking sides.

Both parties have found themselves to be crime victims, and police are finding their hands tied because the argument over property rights is now a civil matter, and both sides are entitled to their own rights.

Dena Everman owns a Marietta home and had plans to sell it, only to learn that Tamara Pritchet's family was living there -- without her knowledge. Pritchet said she rented the house online and paid a deposit and rent to someone she thought was the house's owner.

Regardless, Everman says she wants the family to vacate the house.

Who's right and who's wrong depends on your perspective, but who has the law on their side? Attorney Brian Douglas provides some clarity under Georgia law.

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"At the end of the day, the law is always going to side with the homeowner," Douglas said.

He points to Georgia state statute number 44-5-161, entitled "Adverse possession."

While the homeowner has Lady Justice on their side, the renter has Father Time on theirs.

"They have the right not to just be thrown out arbitrarily; just willy-nilly, just tossed out onto the street," Douglas said.

According to the law, Douglas said, Everman must file an eviction notice to force the family out. The family, in turn, has seven days to respond to the notice.

"The court will have a hearing on it," Douglas said.

In Cobb County, specifically, mediation between the two parties is mandatory. If they still cannot agree, it then goes to a judge, who will make a final decision -- usually forcing the tenants to leave the home.

But in that case, the homeowner will have to foot the bill for all court costs.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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