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Elderly man in hospital forced to sell home after squatter refuses to leave


A simple five-bedroom home listed for $800,000 in the outskirts of Washington, D.C. is now in contract. But it’s not a happy day for its seller.

Located in Fairfax, Va., the listing stated that only cash offers are being accepted and that there is “NO ACCESS to see the lower level of the home,” adding it will be sold “as is only.” 

But it was the next line that prompted viral curiosity.

There will be “acknowledgment,” the listing said, “that [the] home will convey with a person(s) living [on the] lower level with no lease in place.” 

That can only mean one thing: a squatter.

Naturally, the internet went wild. 

The living room.
The living room.
Re/Max Gateway, Llc
The kitchen.
The kitchen.
Re/Max Gateway, Llc

“800k for 5 bd, 4 ba, and your own serial killer,” one user on Instagram commented after the listing made its way to the popular Zillow Gone Wild account, which snagged some 34,000 likes. 

“Is the basement haunted? Feels like the basement is haunted,” another asked. 

“It’s like you’re buying a house and getting a person for free,” one person quipped. 

But the real story is not quite like it seems. 

Zinta Rodger-Rickert, the listing agent with RE/MAX Gateway, told The Post this was a case of a squatter who refuses to leave — and is taking advantage of an elderly sick man. 

“Three years ago, a woman was cleaning the senior owner’s house and she convinced him that she needed a place to stay,” Rodger-Rickert said. “So he offered her the basement, but then she never left. And she does not pay rent.” 

“It is essentially an individual taking advantage of a senior who is ill and currently in the hospital. He will likely end up in hospice,” Rodger-Rickert added. 

The expansive backyard.
The expansive backyard.
Re/Max Gateway, Llc
The window into the basement level.
The window into the basement level.
Re/Max Gateway, Llc

According to property records, a man named Thomas Burke has owned the home since 1997 when he purchased it for $319,000 — or about $576,000 today. 

Burke, now 79, does not have a will, Rodger-Rickert told The Post that his family is hoping to sell the home before he passes away. (They don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer to work on the squatter’s eviction.) 

Virginia law states that it’s illegal to turn off utilities or deny her access until a proper court order is issued. 

“We are hoping the next owner will want to deal with that process,” Rodger-Rickert added. 

Currently, the squatter’s identity has not yet been revealed. But it appears she might be heading to court. 

Rodger-Rickert confirmed to The Post that the home went into contract on Tuesday — only three days after it was on the market, explaining that because of the high demand market and location, this was expected. 

The back porch.
The back porch.
Re/Max Gateway, Llc

Spanning more than 3,500 square feet, the colonial was built in 1964.

“Big kitchen with door to deck area – renovated years back with 42-inch cabinets, vinyl floor and Formica countertops,” the listing notes, adding that the original windows have “some … rot,” and that the sliding door in the family room would require a replacement. 

“Deck supports appear to be in good shape, not to today’s code and upper decking boards are in poor shape,” the listing adds. 

The basement is a walk-out and features a bedroom, a full bathroom, storage and a living area. 

It is estimated that it would take at least $25,000 to fix up the home, including “replacing all three toilets,” the listing adds. “Home is livable but needs some TLC.” 

Not to mention an exorcism.


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