A dad is reportedly facing jail after building his son a dream treehouse in his garden after local council officials first told him he did not need planning permission for it.
But Effie and Kosta Stavrou now say that they have been hit with a mountain of legal troubles over the treehouse.
Effie said they face fines, the cost of removing it, and her husband Kosta could even go to jail.
Effie, of North Royalton in the US state of Ohio, told local media that she and her husband had got in touch with the North Royalton Building Department over the phone before they started construction on the treehouse and on a front deck for their home.
She said: “We asked them, do I need a permit for the deck in the front, yes okay fine. Do I need a permit for the treehouse, the same phone call for the treehouse, no you don’t need a permit for a treehouse.”
But she added: “It was very devastating to hear that my husband who was just trying to do something for his son all of a sudden becomes a criminal because he wanted to do this treehouse.”
The family were reportedly ordered to cease construction after completing about 80 per cent of the treehouse after a neighbour complained about having to see the treehouse from his garden.
Kosta said they decided to continue construction, adding some railings and steps because they were concerned about their son’s safety.
The City of North Royalton then initiated legal action against them.
Kosta said: “I get served by the police department with a third and fourth-degree misdemeanor.”
He added: “It’s crazy I might go to jail for a treehouse, nobody can believe it, everybody thinks it’s a joke.”
The family and the city ended up in the Parma Municipal Court over the treehouse, with a jury ruling in favour of the city in April.
The couple was reportedly found to be in violation of a city ordinance that limits the number of buildings allowed on the property because Effie and Kosta already had a garden shed.
Effie said that the city initially agreed to give them two and a half years to tear down the treehouse.
But they were later told that they had 60 days to comply or Kosta could be given a jail sentence.
Kosta said: “I think there’s other stuff, more major stuff to worry about than just a treehouse, all the shootings that’s going on everywhere.”
And Effie said that she thinks her family has been targeted with selective enforcement, adding that other treehouses exist in the city in similar settings and those families have not been dragged to court or threatened with prison.
Effie said: “This all started from one neighbor complaining, he gathered all of his friends.”
She added: “You know we’re not criminals and you know that’s what we feel like, they make us feel like that.”
Local media contacted Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz but he was unavailable for comment.
The family is now hoping that the city will honour its original agreement to give them two and a half years to take the treehouse down.
They have also suggested that they could take down the garden shed to be in compliance with the city ordinance.
Effie said: “As a parent, you try to do anything you can to make your child happy, and I believe everyone out there would try to do the same thing that we did.”