The Wentwood at Grand Hill property recently came under new management.
Shortly thereafter tenants started receiving notices threatening them with eviction, even though several of those families, including Stacy Carter, could produce receipts showing they had already paid their rent.
“I have a car note. I’m a single parent and I don't get no assistance,” she said. “I work very hard every day for my money and for somebody else to steal my money taken from me and my child is not right."
New management sent out the notice.
Justine Tabone and his team from Hartford Rentals came in to clean up the property and the accounting books.
Tabone said the notice was meant to separate the paying tenants from the non-paying ones.
“When we take over a property, we go through and do a full audit,” he said. “There were approximately 50 accounting discrepancies between tenant ledgers and what it showed we collected.”
The In Your Corner team has also learned the findings of the audit were turned over to a group of attorneys for further examination.
When tenants thought they were being evicted and needed help, we initially put them in touch with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma.
An attorney with the non-profit told us it's difficult for a tenant to prove payment of rent without receipts.
However, when there are a number of renters alleging the same thing, the burden of proof shifts to the landlord, which makes it more difficult to evict.
After our story aired, Hartford Rentals decided to write off all outstanding balances.
“Essentially that decision was made to get a good starting point,” Tabone said. “It just seemed easiest thing to do at this point in time.”
A zero balance means tenants like Stacy Carter and her daughter won't be thrown out into the streets after all.
“Thank y'all a lot. If it weren't for y'all, this wouldn't have even happened,” Stacy said.
Renovations are underway at Wentwood at Grand Hill.
Tabone said the owner plans to put up the property for sale.