Homeowner accuses Gresham renter of being a serial squatter

Homeowner accuses Gresham renter of being a serial squatter »Play Video
Denise Martin explains to KATU News Reporter Thom Jensen why she's been in past rental disputes.

GRESHAM, Ore. – A homeowner says a serial squatter has taken over her property and refuses to leave.

Joyce Enebo, who lives in Redmond, says 55-year-old Denise Martin has been doing this for 20 years, telling a story to get in a home and then not paying the rent.

Outside the home on Tuesday Martin denied being a squatter. She said she is starting a business at the property centered on organic super gardens and their healthy benefits.

"I have a business that revolves around sacred energy gardens," she said. "So I needed a property to land on. I offered the owner $5,000."

She showed a contract to a KATU News reporter that says she will pay $400 a month to the owner and then an almost $4,000 balloon payment. And she said she has paid the rent starting in June.

"I gave her 400 for the First of July and 400 for August. The balance of $3,075 was due on the nineteenth," she said.

Martin said she refuses to pay the roughly $3,800 balance now because Enebo is having her evicted. Martin also said she won't leave because Enebo breeched her contract and she is taking her to court.

But Enebo said by phone Tuesday that Martin moved in even before the deal was struck and that she really agreed to give her $5,000 up front. She said the contract Martin showed the KATU reporter is bogus and that Martin changed the wording after she signed it.

Martin does admit that there has been a two-decade history of problems with previous landlords or sellers. But she said it was always the owners who broke the agreements after she improved their properties with landscaping and gardens. She is adamant that she is not a squatter and never has been.

One couple, who were former landlords of Martin, told KATU News they lost thousands of dollars in rental disputes with Martin.

In response to a question why there have been so many rental disputes, Martin said, "Because no matter what people commit to they say, 'Yes, yes, yes. I want to the garden. I want to save my life. I want to be part of that.' All they're really saying is, 'Money, money, money.'"

Enebo's son, Jeff Steele, who was at the home Tuesday, agreed it is about money, and his disabled mother was depending on the $5,000 she was promised.

"This is all she has and then somebody comes in and doesn't pay. It just doesn't work that way," Steele said.

Both the owner and the tenant say they want to go to court and it looks like they could get that very soon. A hearing on the matter is now scheduled for Sept. 6.

This story came to us as a news tip. If you have one for us send us an email to newstips@katu.com.