Clark Howard's Tips
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 been re-rented.

If possible, an automatic date will be imprinted on the picture as proof.

Original Austin American-Statesman article may be seen at
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