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For Sale: Four bedrooms, two baths and one cousin

Neighbors say the cousin is an elderly man with very few resources.

WASHINGTON — A house for sale in D.C. really caught our eye. Four bedrooms, two baths and a cousin. The $664,500 home in Northwest comes with a guy living in it.

At first glance, the listing for a rowhouse 746 Newton Place in Columbia Heights looks like a pretty good deal.

It's not until you scroll down that you see the surprising detail: 

"Seller's Cousin live(s) in the house. Arrangements are being made to get him out of the property. He may prove tough to allow entry. It is buyer(s) responsibility to evict him if possible."

When we knocked on the door, there was no answer. And there's a no trespassing sign in the window.

Neighbors say the situation is even more complicated than suggested by the listing. They say the cousin is an elderly man with very few resources. If he's kicked out, they say he may end up out on the street.

Neighbors believe the older woman who owned the house passed away a year or two ago.

The realtor selling the home at first seemed eager to talk but then texted that he needed to talk to the sellers before speaking to the media.

When a Fairfax County home with a former housekeeper living in the basement sold for $800,000 earlier this year, it garnered worldwide attention.

Ayanna Smith, who bought a home in Northeast with a tenant inside in April, says dealing with a tenant who doesn't want to move can be a huge hassle.

"Financially, and just the amount of time we've spent trying to get this tenant out of our home," she said.

She gave the tenant a 90-day notice of eviction, then waited months to get a hearing before a judge. But she said the judge immediately tossed her complaint out because she didn't have a business license for the rowhouse she bought in Dakota Crossing.

She said a court worker accepted the court filing but didn't tell her she needed a business license. She said another clerk later told her they weren't allowed to provide "legal advice."

Smith said the city has set up a kind of Catch 22 for homebuyers. "In order to evict a tenant you have to have a business license. In order to get a business license, you have to have a home inspection. In order to get a home inspection, you need to get inside the home," she said. And a tenant might simply tell the new homeowner he or she can't come in.

She wants the DC Council to do something to help homebuyers, and, until it does, she advises a whole lot of caution for anyone interested in buying the house with a cousin inside.

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