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Owners of prized historic N.S. home in legal nightmare, thanks to local government

The first time I met Ian and Lorna Tenniswood was over a video call.

They were in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and I was in Toronto. They gave me a virtual tour of their spectacular four-bedroom home.

It has a state-of-the-art kitchen, a massive family room, gorgeous original ceiling beams, and restored hardwood floors.

The show-stopper is what Lorna calls her “one-of-a-kind nightlight” -- a majestic working lighthouse in the front yard, overlooking the Bay of Fundy in the fishing village of Hampton.

The home's show-stopper is what Lorna Tenniswood calls a "one-of-a-kind nightlight" -- a majestic working lighthouse in the front yard, overlooking the Bay of Fundy in the fishing village of Hampton (W5)

I’ve never seen another home like it. And I've never heard another story quite like theirs.

Through tears, Lorna tells me “I hate it. It's a great house. It’s just so tainted. It's a prison of our own making.”

Long before the Hampton House became the Tenniswoods' “prison,” there were wild rumours that the home was owned by a cult and locals nicknamed it “the Haunted House of Hampton.”

For decades the dilapidated house sat boarded-up, yet fully furnished with no electricity and no running water. Local kids would break in to party in the home, surrounded by strange art, voodoo dolls, and closets filled with clothes.

The Tenniswoods, who restore old homes for a living, purchased the Hampton House at auction in 2021 for $50,000.

They planned to do it up and sell it. They say they sunk $600,000 into the renovation and had to sell their family home to fund the project.

A drone-captured photo of the Hampton Shore, N.S. house and its stunning surroundings (W5)

Lorna acknowledges it was a huge risk, “…but we didn't feel it was a risk that wasn't going to pay us back. We felt very safe in the knowledge that we could turn this into a gem. And it is. And we knew that money would come back to us.”

But then a bombshell from the government of Nova Scotia. Just weeks after they listed it on the market in July 2022, a legal hold was put on their house and the attorney general initiated a lawsuit, arguing that the house doesn’t belong to them and it should be returned to the previous owner.

In Nova Scotia, auctions are conducted by the Sheriff's department. In the province’s lawsuit against the Tenniswoods, the justice department cites errors made by their own sheriff as the reason the auction should be declared null and void.

One of those errors? The sheriff didn’t inform the previous owner, Mehdi Matin, that his home was being auctioned off over an unpaid debt.

"The shock of having your house taken from you without even being told. Well, that’s the worst," previous house owner Mehdi Matin told CTV W5.

Even though he stands to reclaim a home that is now renovated to the hilt, the New York -based artist is livid.

“The shock of it,” says Matin. “The shock of having your house taken from you without even being told. Well, that’s the worst. That’s the worst. This is wrong.”

Our investigation reveals several other cases where errors were made during auctions in Nova Scotia, including a cottage that had been in a family for decades. And a piece of waterfront property that was auctioned off in 2023, but didn’t even exist. The land had washed away in a storm in the 1970s. Top Stories

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