FULLERTON, California -- A California family thought they had the perfect home to start a new life in Nashville, Tennessee, only to discover the home they thought belonged to them did not and now the home has disappeared.
This past May, Rebecah and Ben Richards appeared on the A&E show "Tiny House Nation" and say they agreed to be on the show after their builder sold them on the idea on participating.
The couple wanted to move to follow Ben's music career but needed to find an affordable home that also captured their minimalist and healthy lifestyle. They decided to look into tiny homes and found builder Mike Bedsole.
Soon after talking to him and getting a quote, Bedsole told them about the TV show. Richards said one of the advantages offered by the TV show was the trailer on which the home would sit would be paid for by the show.
"But the builder said that we were not able to accept the trailer from the TV show, that we had to go with his supplier," Richards said.
So, the Richards said they paid Bedsole $11,500 for the trailer, which bank receipts and emails show Bedsole's company, Tiny House Chattanooga, received.
"Our expectation was that he was registering the title in our name as he requested all the documentation to register the title," said Richards. "So, as far as we knew, we always had the title in our name, and it was only later that we found out that he'd actually registered the trailer in his name, not in ours."
Then there was the matter of financing. The Richards said by the time the production crew wanted to start filming they had not secured a loan due to the trailer's size. They couldn't get a loan for it as an RV.
"We had applied through the builder's lender, but they had not paid out the loan yet, and we said this to the TV show and they said, 'Sorry, we can't do your episode,'" said Richards.
But not long after that conversation with show producers, Richards said they got another call. This time it was Bedsole.
"He had spoken to the TV show and made arrangements. He said as long as we paid for the trailer in full that he would commit to doing the TV show and guarantee to the have the home completed by filming," said Richards.
As part of their appearance on the show, the Richards received a little over $47,000 in materials used in the home. Soon after the show wrapped, the Richards said they tried to nail down what the remaining balance they owed to Bedsole.
"Asked him to find out when we deduct all costs that were provided by the TV show, when you look at what you actually built and provided versus what we were quoted on, 'What is the amount that we owe you?' And he would never commit to a number," said Richards.
On top of that, the family moved into the home, which had to remain at Bedsole's workshop to be finished while they also waited for the financing to go through.
"We even said, 'What if we just start making repayments to you directly to help you out until the financing closes?'" said Richards.
After going back and forth for months, the Richards said they learned Bedsole was being evicted. The property owner told the Richards they needed to remove their home soon after they learned the trailer on which their home sits did not actually belong to them.
"We spoke with the attorney and he said if you move the tiny house, we'll have you arrested for stealing, and we said, 'What are you talking about?' and he said, 'You don't own the title to the house,'" said Richards.
They went to court and because the title is in Bedsole's name, the judge considered the couple tenants and evicted them.
"Based on the fact that the builder has the title in his name, he had to rule in position to the builder and he gave us 10 days to vacate the property. And during those 10 days, the builder took the house off the property," he said.
The couple said they have repeatedly written to Bedsole asking where their home is, but have not received a response from him.
The Richards said they reached out to the producers of "Tiny House Nation" but was told their dispute is between them and Bedsole.
"They have their big fancy TV show on and everybody is watching it. They are benefiting from us being on the show and now we are out of pocket. All our money and we don't have our tiny house," said Richards.
The couple packed their two young girls and suitcase and headed back to California where they are living with family.
"Now we can't afford a lawyer to even seek to get our house back and seek justice for what has been done," said Richards.
The family had set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to hire a lawyer.
Eyewitness News reached out to Bedsole and Tiny House Chattanooga for a statement. They did not respond to our request for a comment.
Small dream ends in a big nightmare for tiny house buyers from California