DETROIT, Mich. - A couple says they got permission from the previous owners to move into the home they're now living in. They say they're paying the taxes and the bills. The goal is to keep another beautiful Detroit home from being destroyed.
"We're just trying to maintain what's here and to bring it back and beautify it," said Teddy Washington.
They're the squatters next door, but they prefer you call them neighbors.
"I think with squatters you get the wrong message."
Teddy and James Washington - Brightmoor's newest residents - are living in a nearly one hundred year old farmhouse, after the owners left it last weekend.
"The interior is mostly all different woods - wood floors. The previous owners, before the owners that have it now completely restored it," said James Washington.
"Until the previous owners can get their situation to where it's feasible for them, everybody goes through things, someone has to stay here who's going to maintain the integrity of the property," said Teddy.
Far from being the combative, sometimes violent trespassers that hole up in and trash once vacant homes-- the Washingtons say they're doing the house and the neighborhood a favor.
"This morning we already reported the illegal dumping of the branches right there and down by the water sump pump. An inspector came out within two hours and took pictures and they'll be out within the next couple days to pick up the illegally dumped trash," said James.
So big a favor in fact - they're being embraced.
"Squatters, owners, squatters to be owners, basically anyone who is not destructive and doesn't want to sell drugs or sex," said Jennifer Mergos of the Northwest Brightmoor Alliance.
Jennifer Mergos from the Northwest Brightmoor Alliance says far too many empty homes in the neighborhood fall prey to scrappers and firebugs - so anyone who can help keep that from happening to other homes and this one in particular is more than welcome.
"It's a hundred year old farmhouse it's goregous, it's got character," said Mergos. "You can't find craftmanship like that anymore to the best of my knowledge and we don't want anything to happen to it."
so cue James and Teddy
Both of whom are well aware what they're doing is technically illegal - but they're convinced squatting in this house is more right than wrong.
"It's not a matter of breaking rules it's a matter of complying with what you know is right, and what you know is correct in saving not just a house but a neighborhood." said James.
So, what happens if police or the bank comes knocking? Teddy and James say they'll just be honest and try to work out some kind of deal so they can stay in the house and keep scrappers out.