A real estate ad for a house with a stranger in the basement has gone viral, but the woman says the landlord begged her to move in


  • In April, a real estate ad for a Virginia home that came with a tenant in the basement went viral.
  • The person living in the basement, known as Nelly, shared their side of the story with WUSA9.

A house that was for sale in Fairfax, Va., went viral in April for having a rent-free roommate living in the basement.

On Monday, the person residing in the basement of the now-sold home told his side of the story to Casey Nolen, a reporter for local Fairfax news outlet WUSA9.

The property listing, released on April 10, said the five-bedroom residence would be “sold as is only with the recognition that the house will be passed on to one or more persons living on the lower level without a lease in place.” Potential buyers were also unable to visit the basement, according to the listing.

Outlets like the New York Post spoke to the listing agent and reported that the basement dweller was a squatter, who refused to vacate the property. (The listing agent did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.)

But Nelly, the woman living in the basement, told WUSA9 she was not a squatter.

Nelly – who asked WUSA9 to omit her last name from its report for privacy reasons – said she met the former owner in 2017 when she started cleaning his house every two weeks. Soon after, the duo struck up a friendship and he asked her to move in, she said. (The insider could not reach Nelly and the former owner for comment, respectively.)

Nelly told WUSA9 that when she told him she couldn’t stay, he said, “No, Nelly – if you leave I’m going to die, who’s going to take care of me?”

According to WUSA9, Nelly and her daughter moved in about a year later after she and her husband separated. At that time, Nelly said she asked if she could move into the house with her daughter and they were welcome.

“That day he gave me a big hug and said, ‘From today we will be a family,'” she told WUSA9, speaking of the former owner, who she said was like a father to her.

Nelly said the former owner’s family had tried to kick her out before, but he begged her to stay.

According to WUSA9, the owner being ill and hospitalized, his family decided to sell the house. Nelly said the family had not informed her of their intention to sell and that she, her daughter and their dog intended to move out by Saturday.

“I want to say how much I love him. That’s all,” Nelly told WUSA9 of the former owner. “I don’t care about this mess.”

Nelly also told WUSA9 that she didn’t know the list had gone viral until friends let her know.

The ad caught the eye after it was shared on Zillow Gone Wild, a popular social media account that promotes unique real estate listings.

A post shared by Zillow Gone Wild (@zillowgonewild)

Not only did the home’s listing expose its unusual circumstances, but it also indicated that the property needed some “TLC” and was estimated to be worth $25,000 in repairs.

Nevertheless, the house sold five days after it went on the market. According to WUSA9, the property was bought for $805,000, which is $5,000 more than the asking price.

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