Family feels scammed by landlord and left without power for days

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 24, 2014

scammed rentalGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Grand Rapids family signed a one-year lease for an apartment after they responded to a Craigslist ad that seemed too good to be true; it turned out it was.

Dan Nelson and his family were without power four days since Monday, during this hot and muggy weather. They live at 2017 Eastern SE, a rental owned by Evergreen Properties. On Tuesday FOX 17 called Nelson’s landlord, Steve Benner, who said power should have been restored by Wednesday.

Nelson and his family have lived here for about a month, but he told FOX 17 they are for a new home, as they stay in hotels hoping their power gets turned back on.

Nelson’s young daughter clung to his leg and told him, “but I’m not going to a different hotel again!”

Nelson said he pays their rent and utilities on time and directly to Evergreen Properties; but their power was cut off on Monday. As of Thursday morning, only one light bulb was turned on.

“At the moment, yep, that’s all we’ve got turned on,” said Nelson. “We were hoping that maybe the kitchen, or where the fridge is, or where the washer is would be on, but no. We don’t have anything right now; just a light bulb.”

Then the meter Nelson believes powers the rest of his unit is gone; he said a technical support employee with Consumers Energy removed it on Tuesday.

“So my meter is this one that’s all the way on the end that is missing,” said Nelson, as he showed FOX 17 this missing, mislabeled meter. “It’s labeled second floor, 2021, but as it turns out it’s our meter and it’s missing.”

According to Nelson, his family lost more than $1,000 in spoiled groceries and hotel stays. For four days, he could not get any straight answers: Nelson said he tried calling his landlord dozens of times and got no answer; then he called Consumers Energy, and since only his landlord is on the account, he got no explanation.

“I would tell (my landlord) if I could get ahold of him, that would be great,” said Nelson. “Yeah we’re definitely planning on leaving. There’s no way I would stay here. Talking with the other tenants, this happens often; Consumers (Energy) admits that this happens often. I can’t fathom staying here paying for utilities that may or may not be on, and may or may not be going to Consumers (Energy), I’ve got to leave.”

FOX 17 went and looked for answers. When we spoke with Evergreen Properties, Benner was not available. One employee called Consumers Energy then said she was “not sure” why the power was shut off. She also told FOX 17 that the missing meter is being replaced with a Smart Meter.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Evergreen Properties has a “D” rating. On the BBB’s website, Evergreen Properties has two closed complaints, including one complaint that Evergreen Properties never responded to the BBB about.

Nelson said he found this unit initially on Craigslist and would like his family’s experience to serve as a warning for other renters.

“The Craigslist ad was written very unprofessionally,” explained Nelson. “Trying to get ahold of him just to get the place was difficult. I had to search around on Google just to get the guy’s number; I just wanted to see if it was legit.”

Nelson said he only signed a preliminary lease with Evergreen Properties, and is now in touch with one employee there.

Nelson reached out to FOX 17 and said as of Thursday evening his power was restored. He said he will be meeting with Evergreen Properties on Friday and will ask to for a reimbursement for his expenses.

Nelson said he hopes to move his family within a month.

To help avoid any scams before signing a future lease, check out any potential rental companies with the Better Business Bureau, and search for online reviews of that company.

If you feel you have been scammed get in touch with your local Better Business Bureau and file a complaint. See the BBB’s website or call their West Michigan office at (616) 774-8236.