DENTON -- Khosrow Sadeghian rents dozens and dozens properties all over North Texas. He specializes in renting properties to those who have bad credit.
But Jim and Debra Bowers say what initially seemed like a godsend has turned into a nightmare after they leased a mobile home from Sadeghian outside the city limits of Sanger. More than a month after signing the lease and paying the nearly $1,000 May rent, they have been unable to move in because it’s uninhabitable.
Instead, they’ve been paying $230 a week to rent a room at a Motel 6 in Denton. They’ve been living in the tiny room with their three children.
“Many tears have been shed over this, and I just try to be strong,” Debra Bowers said. “Hopefully, we can find a way to somehow get out of this situation and save another person from this same fate.”
In interview with News 8, Sadeghian repeatedly and angrily told us that the property is habitable and indicated that the issues with the house were merely cosmetic. He said he had not seen the property, which he had bought several months ago through foreclosure. He said he simply doesn’t have time to visit all of his properties.
“We are working on it, if there’s anything that needs to be done,” Sadeghian said. “They have pretty bad credit and see, that’s the thing -- we give people a chance.”
He also said the property manager has told him that “everything should be in good condition.”
Sadeghian lists his properties on various Internet sites, as well as “Homeforeveryone.us.” His wife owns that domain name.
“We have 85-to-90 Section Eight houses [...] and we pass Section Eight with flying colors," Sadeghian said. "We never have any problems, so we know one thing: that we know what it takes to get a house ready for somebody to occupy."
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the Bowers family.
Jim and Debra Bowers packed up all their belongings and move from Virginia to North Texas in early April. Debra Bowers has multiple sclerosis and cancer. They’ve got bad credit, and they’ve been struggling financially.
That’s why Sadeghian’s online ad caught their eye, especially this part: “Owner takes almost all credits and old bankruptcies and evictions are okay.”
Jim Bowers called the phone number listed on the advertisement. It seemed like a great way to get a place.
They decided they liked the location of one of Sadeghian’s properties on two acres just outside Sanger, but it was bad shape and reeked of feces. They say they were told that repairs would be made, including that the carpets and subflooring would be replaced.
“When we met Khos, he seemed very accommodating -- like he wanted to take care of us, give us everything we needed,” Bowers said. “The property manager told us [...] 'as soon as we get a contract on the house, we put all of our efforts into fixing it.'”
They’d rented from other landlords and had never had a problem, so they say they took Sadeghian and his property manager at their word.
On April 24, Bowers met Sadeghian in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box in Denton to sign the lease. He paid the security deposit and May’s rent.
Then, their troubles started. The Bowers say repairs were repeatedly promised and then never completed.
They also realized that the home’s problems were much more extensive than they initially realized. The plumbing is in disrepair. The toilets don’t work. The air conditioning system doesn’t work. There are holes in the floor throughout, allowing rodents and other creatures to the home. There’s mold under the sink and elsewhere.
“I’ve been given excuses left and right, and promises about it being fixed,” Jim Bowers said.
Jim Bowers provided two of the voice mails that Sadeghian left him earlier this month.
“The flooring - any holes to be fixed and all that - I did that,” Sadeghian said in one message.
In both messages, Sadeghian tells Bowers that he will have to amend the lease for an additional $75 for replacing the carpeting. He also blames their neighbor for the troubles between them.
“This neighbor is a troublemaker and she’s trying to make me look bad,” Sadeghian said in the other message.
For Jim, Debra, and their children, being cooped up in that tiny motel room has been tough. She home schools them in the room, and takes them on walks laps around the motel just to burn off energy.
“We have people below us and on both sides, and my children want to stomp and play,” Debra Bowers said. “Trying to keep them from jumping on the beds and bouncing off the walls is very difficult.”
News 8 showed footage from the home to Dallas attorney Clint Blackman, an attorney who represents tenants and works with a local tenants group. He was appalled by what he saw.
“This house is in such bad condition, I question whether anyone should be living in this house until all of the repairs are made,” Blackman said. “This is just a mess... I’ve never seen anything this bad.”
Blackman said he was astounded by the statements that Sadeghian made and said that at various points, he appeared to contradict himself.
“He’s claiming there’s nothing wrong with this house,” Blackman said. “I would disagree with him. If it doesn’t have running water, if it doesn’t have sanitary sewage facilities, that house is not going to habitable under the code.”
On May 19, the Bowers sent Sadeghian a certified letter notifying him that of the repairs that needed to be made. Sadeghian has not responded, nor have the repairs been made.
“We can’t live here. It’s not safe. It’s not healthy,” Jim Bowers said.
“It’s a detriment to our health and our children’s health,” Debra Bowers added.
Jim Bowers sent Sadeghian a certified letter Thursday notifying him that they were terminating the lease. Sadeghian could sue them, potentially costing them more money they don’t have.
“I doubt he would put his family through what he has put us through and other families through,” Debra Bowers said.
Tips for tenants
- Read the lease. Sit down, take your time and read every word. If it is important for you to sign, it is important for you to read what you sign.
- Be wary of leases that have a lot of fees, including fees for inspection, multiple late fees, or witness fees. These might indicate a landlord or manager who will try to make you go into default.
- Inspect the property you plan to rent before you sign the lease. Don’t sign a lease where someone tells you that your apartment will be just like this one.
- If the property is in need of repairs, insist on getting promises of repair in writing prior to signing the lease.
- Check the lease to see if there any special provisions concerning repairs.
- When you sign the lease, insist on getting a copy of the document you just signed. Do not let them mail it to you later.
- Before you move any furniture into the rental property, go in and photograph the condition of the property. Then print the photos that same day and keep the photos with the dated receipt with your lease document.
- Sending notifications via text message or calling on the phone that a property needs repairs will probably not be proper notice to your landlord. In order to “start the clock,” a tenant must send notice that repairs are needed in writing. Send the written notice by certified mail with return receipt requested and keep a copy of the repair request letter you send to your landlord. Concerning repairs for health and safety problems, the landlord has seven days to respond and make repairs.
- In order to take a landlord to court over repairs, a tenant must be current on their rent. The key concern is: does the condition materially affect the physical health and safety of the average tenant?
- Don’t use drop boxes to pay your rent.
- Pay by check, account draft, or bank money order. Do not use convenience store money orders, because you do not get a date-stamped receipt. Write on your check the month and year you are paying rent for.
- If you pay by money order, insist on getting a receipt signed and dated by the property manager. If they won’t give you a receipt or sign something evidencing your payment, mail your payment to the landlord by certified mail and keep a copy of the letter and the postage receipt.
- When you move out, take photos of everything to show that you left the apartment clean and in good shape. Print the pictures and keep the receipt.
- Be sure to give proper and timely notice of your “move out” date prior to the termination of your lease (30 to 60 days). Be sure to give written notice of your forwarding address on or before you vacate your apartment.