UPDATE: Landlord charged after renter disagreement
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: A property owner who was featured in a 3 On Your Side report is now facing charges for allegedly defrauding a renter.
However, Bruce Bailey of Harrison says he's innocent, and gave his son permission to use his name for business.
Property records show Bailey owns dozens of properties in the Chattanooga area.
After Channel 3's story aired on Wednesday, numerous renters contacted our newsroom, wanting to share their concerns and stories.
"Be patient. Don't just jump to the first opportunity you see with the reasonable price and everything. Take your time," said Brandon Houston, who learned that lesson the hard way after trying to rent a home on Craigslist last month.
He saw a post by Bailey Properties advertising a home in the East Lake neighborhood. The post told prospective renters: "Better hurry. This one will go quick."
Houston and his wife thought the home on 12th Avenue was a good deal. They put down a $400 deposit, but ended up backing out of signing a lease.
"It wasn't how it was on Craigslist. It was run down, and it had a lot of rat traps," Houston explained.
The couple said they tried getting their money back with no luck, and filed a police report.
Sharonda Taylor contacted 3 On Your Side after she rented the same home Houston turned down.
"The ad said it had central heat and air, closed in back porch, that it was ready and livable. Once we moved in, we found out none of that was true," Taylor said.
Channel 3 confirmed that the property, owned by Bailey, is currently in violation of city codes, which landlords are required to meet.
Attorney Gary Massey said tenants need to know what they're getting into first, but they do have several rights under the law.
"You have a responsibility to go see what the place is before you rent it. But if it's represented to be something different than it actually is, or if the landlord doesn't do what he promises to do, or if he doesn't provide the minimum things the law requires, then you certainly have recourse as far as moving out, breaking the lease, or even getting a judgment against the landlord requiring him to fix it or pay for it to be fixed," Massey said.
Houston also suggests using reputable websites while home or apartment-searching.
"Try another reliable source, besides Craigslist. Because there's a lot of schemes and scams going on on there," he said.
Bailey bonded out of jail on Thursday, and is due in court at the end of the month.
Channel 3 has heard from several of his current and former renters who plan to keep a close eye on the case.
If you're involved in a dispute with your landlord, you should call your state's renter's hotline, listed below:
Georgia: 1-800-369-4706 Tennessee: 1-800-342-8385
UPDATE: A property owner has been charged with defrauding resident of $1,000.
Bruce Bailey faces one count of fraudulent conveyance of real estate and has been booked with a $5,000 bond.
Earlier this month, Sharonda Taylor signed a leasing agreement with Bruce's son Jordan. Bailey says he gave his son permission to use his name in business matters.
Taylor didn't realize she signed a leasing agreement with the younger Bailey until after her family moved in to the house on Cooley Road.
She said that Bailey asked for a deposit of $1,000 in cash, which she declined to do according to police.
Once the leasing agreement was signed, Taylor moved into the home. Shortly after Taylor and her family arrived, Bruce Bailey's brother wanted to know why they were inside the residence.
She says now her family was being forced out of the house without an eviction notice. Taylor has told police that other people have come to look at the house, even though her family is still living there.
PREVIOUS STORY: A Chattanooga woman is demanding a refund from her landlord after discovering problems with the home she's renting.
The city says the home isn't up to code.
"There's a bug infestation. There's a number of things wrong with the home," said Sharonda Taylor, who is renting a home on 12th Avenue in Chattanooga's East Lake neighborhood.
Taylor found the home posted on Craigslist by Bailey Properties. But she says living there has been a nightmare.
"The house ad said it had central heat and air, a closed-in back porch, and that it was ready and livable. Once I moved in, we found out that none of that information was true," said Taylor.
According to property records, the house is owned by Bruce O. Bailey of Harrison, who owns multiple properties in East Chattanooga.
He spoke with Channel 3 over the phone on Wednesday.
"There were a couple maintenance issues she wasn't happy about. She called and demanded somebody be there that day. I tried to tell her, ma'am I can't get an air guy out there today, but I can tomorrow," Bailey said.
He claims Taylor violated the terms of her lease, which is "as is", by not making a full payment.
Channel 3 confirmed the home has city code violations concerning the interior, heating, and windows. Those violations must be corrected by October 5th.
After that 30-day window, Tennessee law gives renters the right to not pay the landlord if the major issues still exist.
"These laws are in place for a reason, to protect the good, hard-working people," Taylor said.
Bailey explained that he plans to send Taylor an eviction notice next week.
Her family is currently trying to find another place to live.
"I'm going to do what I have to do to protect my family," said Taylor.
Any renter involved in a dispute with their landlord should call their state's renter's hotline number.
Georgia's Renter's Hotline is 1-800-369-4706. Tennessee tenants should call 1-800-342-8385.
Wednesday, August 23 2017 11:49 PM EDT2017-08-24 03:49:44 GMT
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