They bought it, it rotted...East Texas town ticketed for rotting house

By Lakecia Shockley - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - For nine years squatters lived in an East Texas home without paying a dime for rent. It turns out the city owned the home and did not know it until a code enforcer was about to write a violations ticket.

From the outside it is not your typical "Leave it to Beaver" home. The wooden framed house on Wells Street is what caught the attention of Kilgore's code enforcement officer.

"Code enforcement was on a routine patrol one and day he stopped at this house to look at some violations he had seen," said Carol Windham, director of planning for Kilgore. "The roof was severely deteriorated, the outside windows were rotted."

From rotten window's to air condition units barely hanging on and a patchy roof, the city said the home owner was definitely in violation. That is, until they found out who the true homeowner really is.

"He realized that it was actually the City of Kilgore property that was obtained through a sheriff's sale back in 2000," explained Windham.

So, how were the squatters able to live here for nine years rent free? It turns out the family was renting the house from a man in California who failed to pay taxes on the house. So, the house was turned over to the city, but at some point the city just lost track of it!

"In the past years there was never a list created to keep up with these properties," said Windham. "They were never tracked. It was just an oversight, whenever the list was created."

We tried to interview the people living at the home but they declined. We did talk to their neighbor Patricia Young who can't believe the city is kicking them out.

"[The] city come along and say, 'Well, 'cause the outside and not looking right - well, you got to up and go.'" said Young. "That would make me feel bad too."

"We tried in every way - [the] staff did because we did not want to put her out on the streets," said Windham.

The Kilgore City Council did offer to sale the property to the squatters, but that option was not feasible for them. They were given 60 days to move out.

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