Belmont County Landlord facing charges for breaking into his own house

Belmont County

BELLAIRE, Ohio (WTRF) – A Bellaire landlord is now facing criminal charges because he tried to evict a woman who hasn’t paid rent for four months.

Wayne Price said the woman showed up in the house at 625 Ravine Street in September when her adult daughter moved out. 

Price said she told him she was getting out of an abusive marriage and would only stay a few days, but four months later, she’s still there.

Price said he didn’t force her to leave before Christmas because she has a baby, but he told her to be gone by December 27.

On January 5 he went to make sure she was gone and to start working on the house and they both got a surprise.

There was no cars here. We knocked and knocked and knocked and banged on this door for over five minutes. So, I looked and I saw that the locks had been changed. So I told my friend I guess she’s gone.

Wayne Price, Landlord

Without a key, they debated whether to break a window or force the door.

So, my friend kicked the door in and then we heard ‘I’m in here, I’m in here!’.

Wayne Price, Landlord

At that point, Price said the woman yelled something that made them stop.

When the door finally came open, she yells ‘I’m naked, I’m naked!’, but what she had done, she had gone and ripped her shirt off.

Wayne Price, Landlord

She then called Bellaire Police, saying that men were breaking in to her house.

That’s what we would call a “hot call” and officers responded to the scene.

Chief Dick Flanagan, Bellaire Police

Police finally learned it was a landlord evicting a tenant, but in the pandemic, you can’t do that.

There is a moratorium on in the state of Ohio on eviction notices and process.

Chief Dick Flanagan, Bellaire Police

They said Price didn’t follow eviction protocol and go through the courts. Police also say he “kept yelling and carrying on”.

In the end, he was jailed for breaking and entering and disorderly conduct.

This is a very scary moment for any landowner.

Wayne Price, Landlord

Chief Flanagan didn’t disagree.

I feel for any landlord who wants to retrieve their rent. They have bills. They have mortgages, but you just cannot take the law into your own hands, showing up, kicking in doors.

Chief Dick Flanagan, Bellaire Police

Price is going through cancer treatments, and says the handcuffs hurt his wrists.

My wrists are like bones and they put those cuffs on me so tight I dropped to my knees and begged them. I said my wrist is a bone!

Wayne Price, Landlord

Handcuffs are not built for comfort. I tell everybody that.

Chief Dick Flanagan, Bellaire Police

No one is happy with this ending.

The police think Price owes them an apology for things he said, including calling them racists.

Price said it’s ironic that he’s charged with breaking into his own house, and the squatter isn’t in trouble at all.

The woman said she has trouble of her own.

Obviously because of him kicking in my door and scaring my children, I’m gonna get out as quickly as possible, but it still takes time. I’m gonna reach out and I guess move back in to my abusive husband’s house.

Sarah Fine, Occupant of House

It was an unhappy outcome all around.

Police said there’s a pamphlet available at the city building. It outlines the rights of landlords and tenants, and how to go about doing an eviction.

They also said doing it that way could have avoided all this trouble.

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