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Property owner says squatter has been living in his house for years, can't get them to leave

BATON ROUGE - A man living out of state says a woman has taken over his property and won't leave! The homeowner is caught in a legal mess as he fights to reclaim what is rightfully his. He's fighting the squatter and the legal system and contacted 2 On Your Side for help.

The green house on N. 47th Street in Baton Rouge is fenced in with a dog in the backyard. There are "no trespassing signs" posted all around the property. Reena Camel lives in South Carolina and inherited the home from his dad who died decades ago. He says someone else has been living in the house without his permission.

"This is a person, in my opinion, that just wanted something for free," said Camel.

The house is in Camel's name, but before he could take it over it was left in usufruct to his dad's caretaker. Camel didn't learn of her death until he got a letter in the mail in 2012 from a Vanessa Johnson, who said she had been living in the house for years, fixed it up, and started paying the property taxes.

Having no idea, Camel says he told her she couldn't stay there for free and offered to rent it to her for $400 a month.

"She said, 'well, we can't afford that and we'll be moving,' that's when I thought, okay, she's gone," said Camel.

He says the woman didn't leave and she's still there. Camel is caught up in a civil suit that has cost him thousands of dollars.

"You have no right to stay there, yet you did it and then told lie after lie that I gave you the house, could have it if I fixed it up, that's another like she's saying," said Camel.

Camel has tried to evict her. Vanessa Johnson, also going by Vanessa Archille, wrote more letters claiming that the house is hers. Camel says she's squatting and it's time for her to go.

"If this is allowed and she's allowed to do this then there's no need in anyone writing a will, there's no need in anyone trying to leave any type of legacy to their children and when does it stop," asked Camel.

No one was home when 2 On Your Side went knocking on the door Friday. Neighbors in the area seem to think something's up, one woman telling Brittany Weiss that the people staying in the house moved in over 20 years ago.

"I knew it wasn't their property, they just took it like it was theirs," she said.

Camel is ready to move on. He'd like to sell the house, but says the law isn't on his side.

Through 2 On Your Side's investigation, legal documents state the woman living in the house claims to have proof of ownership yet she cannot provide any paperwork to back it up. Camel's attorney entered a motion for a status conference in July but a date has not been set.

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