Despite proof, tenant who double paid rent can’t get refund

Apr 18, 2022, 6:24 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY —With rents on the rise, who can afford to double pay for one month’s rent?

David Martinez of South Ogden said he was pressured to do just that.

Martinez prepaid his rent through May 2021. In April, his landlord sold the property to Cornerstone Residential. Right away, Martinez said there was a problem.

“For the new company, they said that they did not get the May payment,” Martinez explained.

He claimed he showed Cornerstone’s property management proof of the payment multiple times. “They just said, OK, we will take it to the higher-ups,” Martinez said. “Then a month later, we’d get a notice again.”

Martinez said the situation came to a head in October 2021, when Cornerstone told him to pay for the May rent or he would be evicted.

To avoid eviction, he paid $897. He continued trying to get a refund since moving out in December.

When Martinez reached out to Cornerstone about the refund, he said they told him it wasn’t their responsibility to get the money back for him from the prior owner.”

KSL Investigators reached out first to Martinez’s previous landlord, who confirmed via email that he had paid May rent, and that money was given to Cornerstone at the time of the sale.

We reached out multiple times to Cornerstone Residential but never received a response.

“If I had paid, I would be wanting that money back,” commiserated attorney Jacob Kent with nonprofit Utah Legal Services.

Kent said when properties are sold, all prepaid rent payments and deposits are typically included in the sale of the property to the new owner. The tenant shouldn’t have to pay again.

“If the new owner wants to go after the old owner because they didn’t get it, that’s, that’s up to them,” said Kent. As for Martinez, shortly after our calls and emails to Cornerstone, he got a check in the mail: a partial refund of his deposit. As of this report, he was considering his legal options for obtaining the duplicate May payment.

Court may be his only option, Kent told KSL Investigators, where a judge would be able to review the proof of duplicate payment and force the landlord to issue the refund.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Despite proof, tenant who double paid rent can’t get refund