For eight years, Lisa Hardy has lived in a three-bedroom house in Indianapolis, paying her utilities, growing a garden, and raising her three children. The only thing that sets her apart from most other parents across America: She hasn't paid a cent in rent or mortgage payments. And the 1,490-square-foot house wasn't a gift or inheritance—it's just that no landlord or city tax official ever showed up to make her pay up or get out, the Indianapolis Star reports. "[It's] kind of a bizarre case," says the director of housing for a local legal clinic, who explains that after the mortgage crisis hit Indianapolis in 2004, "there were so many bad loans out there that ownership really got kind of confusing. ... There are still a lot of properties that are kind of in limbo."
In 2005, Hardy's former employer, a property management group, offered her the chance to live rent-free in the house for as long as she worked for the company. But the company went out of business the following year, and Hardy appeared to fall through the mortgage and municipal cracks: She kept paying her utility bills, and when she called the city to ask what she should do about the delinquent property taxes, officials told her it wasn't her problem because she wasn't the owner. The city was aware of the home's status but was simply overwhelmed with an influx of tax-delinquent homes it had to dump. Now, however, the home has finally been sold at a tax sale, and Hardy hopes she can work something out with the new owner to become the (official) tenant. "There's not one day I haven't thanked the good Lord for the opportunity to live here without rent," she tells the Star. (This man earned six months of free rent in a quite unusual way.)