Virginia couple fixes up abandoned home they don’t own, landowners want them out

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A family in York County is fighting to stay in a home that’s technically not theirs. They moved in while it was abandoned, putting in time and money to fix it up.

Now they are faced with an ultimatum: They have to leave.

In York County, along Lightfoot Road, a brick rancher needed some love.

“I care about this county and I care about how it looks,” Hollie Curbow said.

Curbow and Chris Canipe worked for weeks to make that house a home.

“Yea I’ve been mowing the grass every day since we’ve been here,” Canipe said.

There’s only one problem with this happy home — it’s not theirs.

“Oh it’s neglected,” Curbow said.

For the last year, Chris and Hollie saw several abandoned houses on Lightfoot Road. They documented their find on their YouTube channel. The brick rancher looked even worse on the inside.

“It was completely covered in filth, old food from refrigerators, even maggots,” Curbow said.

In September they moved in and got to work. First, they made the inside livable and even got cable and internet. Everything went according to plan — until last Sunday.

That’s when someone who claimed to own the property showed up with York County police and an ultimatum.

“They said be out of this house by Sunday at 5,” Curbow said.

Norfolk, Virginia, TV station WAVY looked into the property records. York County tax assessor records show it’s owned by Lightfoot Development Company and the taxes are paid.

“We already put thousands of dollars into this place, fixing their code violations,” Curbow said.

We called a property attorney to ask: Do the Chris and Hollie have a right to stay here?

The attorney said in Virginia there are no “squatters’ rights.” This is trespassing, but it could take a court order to remove them.

“My question is if the owner doesn’t care about the property and he’s just letting it rot, then who is the victim of us moving in here and taking care of this place?” Canipe asked. “I mean I love this house. I love it here, I love this property.”

It may not be Chris and Hollie’s legally, but they consider it home.

WAVY tried to call the landowners. However, every number associated with the company has been disconnected.

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