The News On 6 Investigates: Renter Beware

Tuesday, February 3rd 2009, 12:51 pm
By: News On 6

Editor's note: The State dismissed Count 2 against Remington in June of 2009. On June 25, 2012, Judge James Caputo ordered Count 1 dismissed with prejudice. The judge ordered Remington's record with regard to Count 1 be expunged, since Remington had satisfied the conditions set out by the court after pleading no contest.

Order of Expungement

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office handled 900 foreclosure auctions in 2007. That number more than doubled last year.

What if someone was finding foreclosed homes that are vacant and renting them out, when they had no authority to do so?

A Tulsa realtor believed she found someone doing exactly that and called News On 6 Anchor Lori Fullbright to investigate.

Fullbright's research shows a man is renting out foreclosed homes he doesn't own. The unsuspecting renters are paying him money every month and they shouldn't even be living in the houses. Now they're being forced to move.

Kassidy and Joe Hamilton wanted to move their kids into the Union School District, so they got on Craigslist to look for a house to rent.

Personal Safety Tips for Craigslist

They found one at 3429 West Fort Worth in Broken Arrow. It was a 1,900 square foot house, no deposit down and $900 a month. They signed a lease with Remington Realty and paid cash to a P.O. Box at Boxworks for a Mike Remington.

Kassidy and Joe Hamilton's Lease Agreement with Remington Realty

"We paid October, November, December and two, three days after we paid December, we found out we're not supposed to be here," said Kassidy Hamilton.

Watch an extended interview with Kassidy and Joe Hamilton.

Realtor Lisa Mullins had stopped by to offer to sell the house and was shocked to learn the Hamilton's weren't the owners. They were renters.

Mullins called the sheriff's office and learned no one was supposed to be renting that house. Then she called Fullbright, outraged.

"A total scum, somebody who is just taking advantage of people that are in a bad situation; would like to see some justice done," said Lisa Mullins, realtor.

Watch an extended interview with Lisa Mullins.

Fullbright also contacted the deputy in charge of foreclosure auction for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office Foreclosed Property Sales

The deputy says Mike Remington has no authority to lease the property at 3429 West Fort Worth.

The Land Records Clerk, who says her records would show if there was a lease on a property, confirms there's no lease agreement on that home. The mortgage company doesn't know and didn't hire Mike Remington. The owners say they didn't know or hire Remington to rent that house.

"If you look at the door, looks like the lock was pried off with a screwdriver. We brought that up and he said the sheriff had to do that to get in," said Kassidy.

Now, the home is up for sheriff's auction and Joe and Kassidy must pay to move again and pay for all new utility deposits. Plus, they worry what might happen between now and the auction.

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"I don't see how it's legal for us to be here. That's the bad part," said Joe. "Am I going to get a knock on the door saying, ‘who cares if you're a victim of a scam? It's still not right.'"

Another man in the same spot is Forrest Vaught. He and his new bride needed a place for about six months before his job transferred him out of state.

On Craigslist, they say they found a house, at 8826 East 91st Place in Tulsa. It's 2,700 square feet with a pool, no deposit and $950 a month.

Forrest Vaught's Lease Agreement with Remington Realty

They paid with a money order to a P.O. Box at Boxworks for Mike Remington. They also signed a lease, but the very day he moved in, he got suspicious.

"The front door key lock doesn't open the garage door on the side and doesn't open the back door of the house," said Vaught. "Why would it only open the front door?"

Watch an extended interview with Forrest Vaught.

The deputy in charge of foreclosure auction for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says Mike Remington has no authority to lease the property at 8826 East 91st Place.

The Land Records Office confirms there is no lease on that property and the attorney for the mortgage company says they didn't hire Remington. The owner of the home also says she didn't know of or hire Remington.

So, two months after moving in, Vaught learned he had to move out because the sheriff's auction was set.

"What if the sheriff's auction comes," said Vaught, "and all our stuff is in there and stuck and we can't get it?"

The News On 6 located Mike Remington and he told Fullbright three different stories about the homes.

Story number one:

Lori Fullbright: "Are you renting these two properties?"
Mike Remington: "No, I'm not."
Lori Fullbright: "I talked to the people who live there and they gave me a lease with your name on it, says Remington Realty, and it has these properties listed."

Story number two:

Mike Remington: "Right. I'd gotten permission from the owners to rent those out, but I am not at this point collecting."
Lori Fullbright: "Okay. We talked to the owner's son and he said that you don't have any authority to rent those."
Mike Remington: "Okay."

Story number three:

Mike Remington: "I was working as a leasing agent with the lenders and had been in contact with the owners as well."
Lori Fullbright: "We called the lenders and they said that there was nobody who was suppose to have authority. They don't know your name, they've never heard of Remington Realty."

Fullbright wanted to know about a third property. A home at 10205 North 143rd East Avenue in Owasso where Remington is living, another foreclosed property.

The deputy in charge of foreclosure auction for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said Mike Remington has no authority to the property at 10205 North 143rd East Avenue in Owasso.

The Land Records Clerk confirms no lease agreement there.

Lori Fullbright: "Is this where you're living right now?"
Mike Remington: "No."
Lori Fullbright: "Have you been living here?"
Mike Remington: "No, I'm not."

Watch the entire conversation between Lori Fullbright and Mike Remington.

Just a few minutes later, Fullbright went to the house and a yellow Mustang out front is registered to a Michael Remington with a P.O. Box at Boxworks.

Plus, a woman who said she was his girlfriend said they were living there together.

Remington said he'd be glad to show The News On 6 proof he had a right to the three properties at a later date.

Fullbright has called Remington many times since January 28th, but he won't talk to her.

The couples who were renting the homes are being forced to move. They have both contacted police and so did one of the homeowners.

Fullbright has now met two more people who rented properties from Remington. They too found the properties on Craigslist. Remington had no legal right to the properties and the renters had to move out and are out that rent money.

To avoid being a victim, get a referral before you hire a leasing company or realtor.

Check with the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission. Someone must be licensed to rent a property they do not own -- Remington is not licensed.

If you think you are being taken advantage of, call police.

Take our interactive quiz to find out if your prospective landlord is taking advantage of you.