Rental giant once led by Trump friend criticized for poor service

Rental giant tied to Trump criticized for poor service

News 8 Investigates

Rent easy, live well.

That’s the slogan of Waypoint Homes, a giant in the home rental business. In corporate videos, its tenants say their homes are quiet and clean, their neighbors are nice, and that they would recommend Waypoint Homes to a friend.

But for Ebony and Carlos January, their experience was far different.

“I call it the house of horrors,” Carlos told WFAA. “Because that's how bad it was.”

They documented their problems while living in a nearly $2,000-a-month rent house located, ironically, on Promise Land Drive in Frisco.

Waypoint owns the house, and about 2,200 others in North Texas. They’re an Arizona company which merged recently with Dallas-based Invitation Homes.

Combined, they now have 80,000 rental properties across the United States.

Tom Barrack founded and led the company before the merger. He’s one of Donald Trump’s closest billionaire friends. Barrack raised millions for Trump’s campaign and when it came time for Trump’s inauguration, Trump appointed him the man in charge to run the show.

"Like President Trump, Tom Barrack is a real estate mogul and he's the kind of real estate mogul that's always made his money by profiting off of other people's pain,” said Aaron Glantz, who has tracked Barrack’s rental home acquisitions for Reveal, part of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Critics like Glantz say the company is quick to evict, charges excessive fees and rents out homes riddled with maintenance issues. Yet profits are way up.

"If you look at their filings for their shareholders, they brag, maintenance costs are going down, income from late fees and seizing people's security deposit is going up. All of this is good news for them.”

Online reviews have been brutal. Our joint investigation with ABC News and affiliate stations found unhappy customers across the country.

The Januarys told us they didn’t know about the slew of negative reviews about Waypoint when they signed their Frisco lease.

"It had a nice master bedroom, bathroom,” Ebony January told WFAA. “It had four bedrooms, upstairs, downstairs. Two living rooms. It was really what we were looking for."

But after two water leaks, one downstairs and one that filled the ceiling with water, the Januarys had had enough.

"Having to go to a hotel for a month or two months and to not actually live in the house but you're still paying rent every month to not live there, that's just, that's crazy,” Ebony said.

Charles Young is chief operating officer of Invitation Homes, a title he also had at Waypoint before the merger. He addressed the January’s issues as well as other dissatisfied renters.

"One disappointed resident is one too many. We're committed to working with residents,” Young said. “If you look across all our residents, 99 percent are having a great experience.”

This satisfaction rate is not reflected in the company's Better Business Bureau rating, which gives the company a D+, finding a "patterns of complaints" involving "repair" and "customer service" issues.

“We're in the business of providing safe, solid, high-quality homes,” Young said. “And we take that responsibility very seriously. If we can get better, that's what we want to do."

The January's have moved on, to a much smaller apartment, but a place where they say they feel they won't be taken advantage of.

“They just do not care. At the end of the day, to them, it's all about money. They don't see you as an individual. They see, we're making money off this person.”

Email: investigates@wfaa.com

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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