RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Families are paying a price for the slow pace of lawsuits against their landlords.
Last year Attorney General Pam Bondi sued Tampa companies accused of using HOA foreclosure properties to prey on financially distressed Floridians.
But some families affected say it’s taking way too long for the court to take action.
“We thought that we had finally got the dream,” Aisha Volcy said of the rental home she moved into with her husband and eight children in Riverview.
They found the home advertised on Craigslist and had no idea who owned it until they began getting foreclosure notices.
Shortly after they moved in, Volcy says things started breaking, including a toilet, an air conditioner and the disposal.
“They let us go almost two weeks without a refrigerator,” she said.
In text messages she shared with the I-Team, her landlord denies multiple repair requests.
“We're not gonna fix anything. It's part of your lease,” she said she was told.
But as much of a struggle as they are having, they don’t want to leave.
They are now fighting the landlord's attempts to evict them.
The landlord turned out to be a company called HOA problem solutions, which is being sued by the Florida Attorney General.
They have since transferred the home’s title into a new company.
In an eviction lawsuit, the landlord claims the Volcys missed a rent payment, but they deny that and say they will fight the eviction in court.
An I-Team investigation last year showed that HOA Problem Solutions and several related companies operated out of a west Tampa sports marketing office bought the titles of homes in foreclosure from HOA auctions.
They would then rent the homes until banks took them back.
Many families told us at the time that they did not realize the properties were in foreclosure when they signed leases.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's office, the company didn’t always tell renters the homes were in foreclosure and renters would often have to move out quickly before their leases were up.
“There's a lot of houses. A lot of families are getting kicked out because of this. And a lot of people don't know about this,” said Jorge Taveras, whose family was evicted after the home they rented was transferred from one group of investors to another, and they paid rent to the wrong landlord.
For the past six months, the AG’s office has been seeking to shut HOA Problem Solutions and several related companies down under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The trial is proceeding slowly.
HOA Problem Solutions’ attorney missed multiple court deadlines to provide information, delaying the trial by months.
In the meantime, the Volcy's rental home title was transferred to a new company called Pasco Home Help.
A company not legally registered in Florida is listed as the registered agent, and the address listed is a PO Box at a UPS store in Odessa.
“It's a tangled web that somebody needs to untangle,” said Volcy.
The Attorney General’s Office says they're in the process of doing just that and are currently investigating Volcys’ complaint, but the family worries time is not on their side.
“It's ridiculous. When does the government step in and say we're gonna protect the American family?” Volcy said.
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