A couple in Idaho got the shock of a lifetime when they stopped to check on their vacant property to find a stranger had moved in.
Renea and Brian Prindle moved out of their Nampa, Idaho home in December and are in the process of selling the house to a buyer in California. They never expected to show up one day and find the locks changed, and someone else was settling in.
“The first thing we noticed was a vehicle in our driveway, our outside lights were on, our inside lights were on, and there was sheets covering up the windows,” homeowner Renea Prindle said. “There were kids running in and out of the house.”
Renea’s husband Brian then entered the home and was face-to-face with a complete stranger who said she just moved in and rented the house from a man named Daniel Brink. She then showed the Prindles a copy of her lease.
The address listed for Daniel Brink matches the address for the Portland Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter.
“We told the cops, ‘we don't know this woman, our home is not for rent, our signatures are not on the lease agreement, we don't have a contract with this woman and she's trespassing,’” Prindle said.
But the cops’ response is not what the Prindles were expecting. Law enforcement arrived at the home, and told the “tenant” Debbra she had a right to stay there since she had a lease, and told the homeowners to go home.
“The cop said we had to respect her privacy and we weren't allowed to go into our home,” Prindle said. “We couldn't get past the front door. We were standing in the doorway but we weren’t allowed in, and we could smell the cigarette smoke; it was horrible. We could smell marijuana, and we weren't allowed to search our property. So we asked the police if they would search our property, and they said they couldn't.”
The Nampa Police Department said they’re not investigating the matter because it is a civil issue rather than a criminal issue.
“I don't understand how something so obviously criminal — the big picture is very criminal: someone broke into our house, changed our locks and is living there — whether it's her or not this is a criminal matter. It's not a civil matter,” Prindle said. “We've basically been told that there is no section of the law that exists for this scenario. We've been forced to take on the role as landlord and we've been forced to move forward as if we were landlords.”
The couple made an agreement with the woman she’d find another place to leave by that Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. The Prindles showed up, as discussed, and changed the locks but got a phone call from the police shortly after.
“I got a call from the police station and the cop said she had every right to break a window if she needed to [get back in],” Renea said.
To prevent any further damage, the Prindles returned to the house and put the old locks back on.
“Why is the police department not helping us? I mean this is just absurd that someone can have a piece of paper and suddenly have rights to someone else's property,” Renea said. “There needs to be changes. There absolutely needs to be changes.”
The Prindles have a court hearing with the woman scheduled for April 11.