Ogden family’s dream rental situation turns out to be a nightmare
OGDEN, Utah — When he first saw the price of an Ogden house for rent, Justin Pace thought he and his family had hit the jackpot.
“It was amazing,” he said.
Not only was $1300 a month within their budget, but there was also plenty of room for his wife and three kids.
“Our dog can run in the backyard. The kids could play. We didn’t have to be all in the same room at the same time,” said Pace. “They had their own bedrooms. It was a dream come true.”
Anybody looking to rent a house in Utah can tell you how difficult the market is right now.
However, after months of looking for a single-family home, Pace thought things were finally looking up.
“We moved into the house in one day. We rushed to get in,” Pace said with a laugh.
However, he’s not laughing anymore.
Their dreams have become a nightmare.
It started with a notice taped to their front door saying they were squatting and had to leave immediately.
That notice was from the company renting the home.
The letter said the Pace’s didn’t have permission to live there.
Pace says he signed a lease and had a copy of it. He also sent $2300 in rent and deposit to a man through Venmo claiming to be the landlord.
When Pace first say that squatting notice, he tried calling that landlord.
“Every time they were on the phone with a different agent, you know? A different person claiming to own it. That was the first red flag,” he said. “I just want to know where my family and I are going to live and if it’s going to be here or if there was some confusion or anything.”
He spoke with another man claiming to be a landlord, then a third man claiming to own the home said he had to leave.
Pace knew something wasn’t right.
“That’s when I decided no more. I’m just calling the police,” he said.
Ogden police detectives are now looking into this case after Pace filed a report with them.
“It’s terrible when something like this happens,” said Paul Smith, who is the Executive Director of the Utah Apartment Association.
That Association deals with a lot of home rentals as well.
Smith doesn’t see this type of fraud often when the market is busy because single-family homes don’t sit for long.
That makes it tough to trick someone into a squatting situation because people are constantly looking at the home.
However, it does happen.
“The first thing is if the rent looks too good to be true, it probably is,” said Smith. “The second thing is if the owner won’t meet with you personally, that’s a red flag. And the third red flag is when people ask you to wire or Venmo money.”
For now, the Pace’s are staying in the Ogden house because they say they have nowhere else to go within their budget and have started a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise money for another home.
They also put a note on the front and back doors explaining it all because lots of people keep coming to look at the house interesting in renting it from other landlords.
“I just don’t know who to believe,” said Pace. “It’s scary not knowing where our home is.”
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