Eyewitness News Investigates: Landlord Problems

Eyewitness News Investigates: Landlord Problems

A Fresno family turns to Eyewitness News for help, after fire destroys their apartment. All they wanted was a refund of their deposit and rent from the landlord. CBS47's Zara Arboleda investigates.
The Rubalcava family lost everything when fire ripped through their apartment complex on April 2nd of this year. When Elizabeth Rubalcava contacted her landlord at J.D. Home Rentals, she says the staff refused to return her deposit or her rent, which she had paid the day before the fire.

"I asked them to let me move", Rubalcava says. "But they wanted another deposit and first month's rent to move into another of their apartments. And I am done with J.D." 

Volunteers with "No More Slumlords" said they also tried contacted the company, but weren't making much progress.  J.D. Home Rentals is one of the biggest in Fresno, managing around 3,000 units. Earlier this year, several tenants filed a class-action lawsuit against the company. That case is still pending. The City of Fresno opened 132 housing code violation cases against the company in 2013. That represents about 10% of the city's total cases. The Better Business Bureau gives the company a grade of "B-", saying there have been several complaints made about the company's rental companies, but that all complaints were addressed.

CBS 47's Zara Arboleda contacted the owners of the rental company. Bryce Hovannisian released this statement: "After the fire...the two displaced tenants were offered alternate residence by JD Home Rentals. After unsuccessful efforts to make further contact, a prorate rent refund and a full deposit refund were issued and mailed to the tenant's last known address in accordance with California law."

The last known address was the burned out apartment complex. The Rubalcavas didn't get the checks. But on Wednesday of this week, Elizabeth Rubalcava went to the J.D. Home Rentals office in Fresno. There, she received two checks - one for her deposit and one for her prorated rent for the month of April. She and her husband - along with their five children - are living with her mother until they find a new place to live. They have decided to go with a different property manager.

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