10News Investigates Pre-Paid Rental Listings

San Diego’s rental market is tight, with a 3 percent vacancy rate.

That rate translates to higher rents, higher stress and more scams separating renters from their money.

It’s an advance fee plan where money is taken upfront for lists of rental properties.

The plan is OK if the list is actually fine-tuned for the renter and helps them find the right place to live.

However, experts are warning renters to hang on to their wallets.

Shopping for a rental in San Diego County could make your head spin.

Those seeking to rent cruise the streets, go online or fish through newspaper classified ads.

There are so many neighborhoods and so few affordable choices.

That is why some renters pay upfront for property lists that are supposed to be customized.

Student Kate Tsyrklevich wanted a house where she could have her dog, Moshe, live with her.

Tsyrklevich paid $118 for a list.

“I was told that all of these properties would accept my dog,” Tsyrklevich told 10News.

However, Tsyrklevich found that it was not true.

“Most of them would not accept dogs. The lists were off on the number of bedrooms and most were not houses, several were actually apartment complexes,” said Tsyrklevich.

Some of the leads on her list were undesirable homes, while others were already rented out.

It was the same story for Monique Polinsky.

“We’re doing all of the work ourselves. We just paid $98 for a list we could have printed out from Craigslist or San Diego Reader,” said Polinsky.

None of the landlords on Polinsky’s list would accept her puppy.

Both Polinsky and Tsyrklevich bought their lists from a company called Rent San Diego Properties.

When the women asked for refunds, they were told $50 was to be held back as a service charge and for running credit reports.

“It’s not a lot of money, but we’re college students and they just took our money,” said Polinsky.

The Better Business Bureau agreed, giving Rent San Diego Properties an “unsatisfactory rating.”

More than 30 complaints have been filed with the BBB in the last 12 months.

Sheryl Charleston of the BBB said, “Our big concern is the pattern of complaints. Not enough is being done to address complaints. Problems in the organization need to be fixed and clearly they are not fixing the problems.”

For a closer look at Rent San Diego Properties, 10News investigators went undercover into their Miramar office.

“The office was really busy; the phone rang constantly,” said an undercover 10News producer.

10News received the same results from its list that Polinsky and Tsyrklevich did.

10News investigators sought out the owner of Rent San Diego Properties, Laverne Bosse.

Attempts to contact Bosse were unsuccessful.

10News investigators tried to visit the Point Loma home address listed on Bosse’s real estate licenses, but the address doesn’t exist.

So, a warning from one of Bosse’s unhappy customers: “People are going to get screwed over. The leads are completely misleading with all of the info they give you.”

10News learned there is nothing illegal about taking ads from other sources, but state law said these leads have to be accurate, available and should meet the specific needs of clients buying them.

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