Zachary Anderson realized too late he was not actually the owner of the Atlanta home that he thought he purchased. Records showed the owner as Harbour Portfolio VII LP. It turned out that Anderson had entered into a "contract-for-deed," a type of transaction that was widespread in the 1950s and 60s when African Americans couldn't always get conventional home loans. The Atlantic has more on these rent-to-own deals that leaves buyers without ownership of their homes:
In a contract for deed, the buyer purchases an agreement for the deed rather than buying the deed itself. The tenant has to fulfill the conditions of the agreement in order to get the deed, conditions that usually include making a series of timely payments over decades, paying for home repairs and general maintenance of the home, and paying taxes and insurance on the property. If he misses one payment, thus violating the agreement, he can be evicted, losing all the equity he put into the home.