Apartment complexes charging tenants double rent
December 9, 2004
We've been through
a period of terrible dishonesty and amoral behavior among banks, brokerage
houses and other financial institutions. It has caused a lot of distrust
and frustration among the American people, who now seem to distrust corporate
America in general.
Apparently, it's continuing.
The nation's largest
apartment company owner, Equity Residential Properties, is the target of
a huge lawsuit in Florida for duping tenants out of rent money they didn't
owe. The company owns apartment complexes in 33 states and it has just lost
a case for improperly collecting money from former tenants.
Let's say a tenant had to terminate a lease early for some reason. The
company would tell the tenant that he or she would be responsible for
the remainder of the lease until and unless someone else moved into the
apartment. But Executive Residential and several management companies
were holding people liable for rent on an apartment that had been re-rented.
So essentially, the company was collecting "double rent" on
apartments, which is against the law.
Even worse, the company didn't tell former tenants that they owed the
money. So when that person goes to buy a home, there are unpaid debts
on that person's credit report. The apartment complex was using that fact
to force former tenants to pay money they didn't owe.
Apparently, this is just the tip of the iceberg in the apartment industry.
What can you do? Make sure you go by the apartment or home to see if
it's been rented, or ask your friends to watch out. Then, take a picture
of the place — with people or furniture inside — to show it's
If possible, an automatic
date will be imprinted on the picture as proof.