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Couple Removed From Abandoned Home After Making Repairs

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Michael Donley, 46, and Carmilla Manzanet, 43, face trespassing charges and have no place to live after being kicked out of this vacant home. (Credit: Chris Martinez/CBS 2)

Michael Donley, 46, and Carmilla Manzanet, 43, face trespassing charges and have no place to live after being kicked out of this vacant home. (Credit: Chris Martinez/CBS 2)

Chris Martinez Chris Martinez
Chris Martinez is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. ...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — They were chasing the American dream. One Chicago couple moved into a house and started making changes. Trouble is, it belonged to someone else.

CBS 2′s Chris Martinez explains what happened when the real owner found out.

In their search for a new home, a house in Rogers Park was the winner. So after losing their apartment, Michael Donley and Carmilla Manzanet decided to move in. Problem was it never belonged to them.

“We’re definitely not the first to do what we did,” said Donley.

It’s called notorious possession occupying an empty, foreclosed home, living there as if you own it.

“It would suit us in the interim and at the same time we’ll pay it forward by fixing up the house,” said Donley.

So that’s what they did sleeping in the attic while paying to rehab the water damaged house.

it lasted a couple months, until the Texas company that owns the home found out they were there and had police haul them off.

“They caught me red handed,” said Donley.

An ousting Invitation Homes says is appropriate, calling this “an unfortunate and unusual situation” and saying the company has “no plans” to compensate for repairs.

“The house is an eyesore now because now it’s boarded up. It looked better without the boards,” said Manzanet.

Under state property laws the house could have legally been handed over to that couple had they been able to stay there and paid taxes for 20 years.

Instead, they now face criminal trespassing charges.

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