DENVER (CBS4) – A family says a company that buys “ugly houses” ripped them off. They got so little money for their late father’s home that they went to court to win it back.

The family feels like they were exploited during a time of grief.

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Isaac Tyler bought the home in 1986 and had only $20,000 left on the mortgage. After he died his children got behind on the payments and investors wanted to buy it. They tried to prove the family wasn’t entitled to ownership of the house and even dug up some distant relatives as potential heirs to the estate.

“I knew at an early age he was not my biological father,” Tyler’s son Tyrone Cheeks said.

But Cheeks says it never mattered. His mother and Tyler raised him and his older brother Calvin and younger brother Spencer. They were a family.

“Put clothes on my back, took me to school, whipped me, you know, disciplined me, and taught me about life,” Cheeks said.

In 2006 Cheeks’ mother died of cancer, and cancer also killed his father last year. There was no will and the three boys were forced to prove, although not legally adopted, Tyler was their father.

“All I could think about was everything he ever did with us,” Cheeks said.

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The family was fracturing. Foreclosure investors with HomeVestors, a franchise with We Buy Ugly Houses, and another investor wanted the home. They paid $9,000 to stop the foreclosure and $5,000 to Cheeks’ younger brother for a deed.

“He couldn’t handle it so he sold the house,” Cheeks said.

The home is valued at more than $150,000. It all happened behind Cheeks’ back. Attorney Stanton Rosenbaum and his team volunteered to take the case.

“I think these people are preying on people whose houses are being foreclosed upon,” Rosenbaum said.

Attorneys had to first prove Tyler was the father of the three boys — and they did. They also had to prove that the deed transfer to HomeVestors was fraudulent – and they did. Cheeks won the fight to save his family home. He thinks about his father.

“He would be surprised that I did this, I’ll tell you that. Oh man, but he would be proud,” Cheeks said.

The home Cheeks’ parents worked so hard for will now be sold for a fair price.

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The attorney for HomeVestors said they are considering an appeal. He said the Cheeks boys are not natural children of Tyler, they weren’t legally adopted and are not entitled to ownership of the home. He said it’s a clear error of law by the judge.