When it comes time to write that rent check, just grabbing a pen to start the process can sometimes cause a headache and a half. Parting with money is never easy, and most people just tighten their belts when the end of the month rolls around — but that doesn’t mean we don’t all dream of living a rent-free life.
When an Indiana resident and her three children moved into a three-bedroom home in a decent neighborhood, she was slightly nervous about making the monthly rent payments. However, unusual circumstances led to one of strangest home rental cases ever…
As a single mother of three, Lisa Hardy of Indianapolis, Indiana, needed to be careful with money. So when she moved her family into a three-bedroom home in a new neighborhood in 2005, she was nervous about the monthly rent.
The house was big enough to comfortably fit all three of her children. But, as the sole earner in the house, she knew money would disappear quickly if not properly managed.
Luckily, Lisa was working as a Realtor for a company called Showhomes Property Management. The company offered to put her up in the house rent-free for a short while to help her get her finances in order. But then the situation got weird.
Lisa’s management company never put a limit on how long she could stay in the house rent-free, but she knew eventually she’d have to start paying. Then, in 2006, one year after Lisa and her kids moved in, Indiana was hit with a massive mortgage meltdown. Uh-oh.
This meltdown happened across the country and became known as the subprime mortgage crisis (which led into the Great Recession of the late 2000s). It was caused mostly by mortgage-backed securities and a higher demand for mortgages, and Showhomes Property Management found itself in a perilous position.
The now-struggling company laid off Lisa and eventually went out of business. The CEO of the company was even arrested on charges of federal fraud. Surely, this meant a now-jobless Lisa was about to be smacked with a bill for rent?
Well, Lisa simply stayed in the house and waited for someone to ask her to start paying. The bizarre thing about the situation was that there was no paperwork indicating she owned the home; it was supposed to be the temporary rent-free location her now-out-of-business company put her in.
While Lisa struggled to find another job, she still paid all the utility bills for the home. She made sure she never missed a payment because of the highly unusual, and quite possibly illegal, circumstance her family was in.
In fact, there were several other vacant houses in the same vicinity and most were put up for auction. For whatever reason, Lisa’s home was never brought up. There were even overdue property taxes, but because Lisa didn’t officially own the land, she didn’t have to worry about that.
Roger Rayburn, a member of the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic who knew about Lisa’s situation, explained that she got swept up in the aftermath of the mortgage meltdown and ended up in a home that was in a kind of limbo. No one really needed any money from it. So, Lisa did what most other people in her situation would do…
She simply stayed and raised her family! She couldn’t think of a good reason to leave; she wasn’t being charged rent! Her kids loved the home, and it was spacious enough for all of them. But, would her situation stay this way forever?
Lisa spent her days tending to the yard and garden as if she owned the home because, well, she practically did! Eventually, years passed, and two of her children moved out on their own. She was still there with her youngest.
Along with the money she was accumulating through a part-time job she picked up, she received federal disability checks after suffering bouts of manic depression. Financially, Lisa was comfortable; however, there was one huge drawback to the situation…
Although the property allowed her to save plenty of money, she was constantly afraid a landlord was just going to show up one day and kick her and her youngest child out. The landlord, after all, would’ve had every right to do so.
Amazingly though, it never happened. For nine years, Lisa lived in her Indianapolis home without having to pay a dime for rent. It was a situation she never dreamed would happen, but it didn’t come without problems…
Because there was no landlord to call about structural damage, Lisa had to shell out all the money for fixes herself; one of the biggest financial setbacks was a persistent leak in the roof. In 2014, after nine years rent free, everything changed…
A massive investment company from Singapore called CTL Group bought up Lisa’s property and assumed ownership of it. Clara Tan Lisin, the founder of the investment group, said she’d be happy to keep Lisa as a tenant…if she was able to pay the rent.
Even though Lisa’s days of free-living were gone, she no longer had the knot in her stomach that someone would kick her out of her home unannounced. A sort of order had finally been established, and Lisa hoped she and Clara could work a deal out!
Lisa just happened to move into her home at a very unusual and chaotic time during the Indiana real estate market. Although she stocked away money, the relief she felt once the Singaporean investment group swooped in and purchased the home was totally worth it.
Lisa Hardy and her family lucked out by moving into that vacant neighborhood home. To think they lived there for nearly a decade without paying even one cent is wild! Check out the video below for more on her story!
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