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Property dispute sparks conversation of new laws

Posted at 4:43 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 19:13:54-04

A Nampa couple is continuing the fight to evict a woman from their home they say they never gave permission to move in.  Now legislators are getting involved, hoping to prevent this from happening to someone else in the future.

The 2015 legislative session may be complete, but lawmakers in Canyon County are already talking about drafting legislation for next session that would address the situation where a so-called "tenant" moves into a property under a fraudulent lease.

“How can you lease someone else's property when the homeowners are not even involved?,” District 12 Representative Rick Youngblood said.

The property in question, on South Westwood Street in Nampa, is owned by Brian and Renea Prindle, who made plans to sell the home to 72-year-old Nancy Billings out of California.

“That’s where I was going to spend the rest of my life right there,” Billings said. “It's devastating to me. It's been a few months now, in my head I’m living there already but I don't know what to do now.”

The sale is at a standstill, as the rightful property owners are now in a court battle to evict the woman named Debbra Smith, who moved in without their knowledge, claiming she signed a lease and paid rent to a man the homeowners have never heard of.

Smith is currently behind bars for an unrelated charge.

“She's certainly potentially been taken advantage of, and we feel badly for that, but that doesn't allow her to trespass in someone's home and potentially do damage to the home,” Youngblood said.

After seeing our continued coverage, Representative Youngblood says he and other representatives felt the need to step in and make a change, reaching out to the homeowners himself.

“I told them, ‘I want to sit down with you when we get closer to session, we'll look at the statutes, and say 'okay clearly there's a need here for some changes,'’” Youngblood said.

Youngblood says Idaho law needs a clause to address scenarios where possible con artists may step in, claim ownership of vacant homes, cash in on rent money,  and as in the Prindle's case, leave the true homeowners with a lack of rights to their own property.

“There’s no evidence to support the lease at all.  There's just a lease document with somebody's signature that nobody's ever heard of,” Youngblood said. “There's no other proof, no other evidence. It's clearly a case of trespassing. That's what needs to be pushed both from the local police department to the judge. We wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else again.”

The homeowners have scheduled a meeting with the Governor’s office at the state capital Tuesday.

Stay with 6 On Your Side for the latest on this developing story.