Alternative Rental RipOff

toniawinstoJuly 10, 2006

My name is Tonia Winston and this is my story. A few years ago my husband passed away, creating financial difficulty because of a long term illness and alcholism. And if you ever lived with or knew someone with this problem you know the nightmare it can create, especially if you have 3 children. We lost everything we had worked so hard for.

Everytime I have gone to Social Services for help, I get the same response, you make to much money, or you would be better off quitting your job. My landlord of seven years began to have marital problems which led to a divorce. He lost one house in the divorce and after discovering that he could not afford to buy in todays market, decided to convert the basment of the home I was leasing from him, into separate living for himself. After several months of living in the basement, he decided he wanted the whole house back, so he asked me to find other living arrangements. Because of credit problems, I was having a hard time finding an apartment or house to rent. I finally came across an apartment complex (Orchard Pond Apartments, Gaithersburg Maryland) with an agent that I thought understood my situation an offered an alternative to my problem) It seemed that her apartment complex worked with businesses that did Corporate Housing Agreements. The Leasing company becomes the quarantor of the rent. You pay the Corporate Leasing Company., $100.00 consulting fee, depending on the number of people living in the apartment the application fee, which in my case was 75.00 plus you pay the security deposit requested by the apartment complex, and a 1 month security deposit to leasing company, plus an additional 20% with your monthly rent. The owner of the leasing company (Ken Elias) and I met at the rental office, signed the Elias Consulting Group Corporate Lease Agreement, and the lease with Orchard Pond. You also had to agree to have the rent deducted directly from a checking account. I moved in and for about six months everything seemed fine. The all of a sudden I started getting late rent payment notices and eviction notices. I contacted the rental office, only to find out that The Elias Consulting Group had filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. I spoke to Mr. Elias and he stated that he had indeed filed a reorganization bankruptcy only for the month of March. That he would pay all subsequent rent, but the month of March rent was being held in escrow by the Bankruptcy court. He told me not to worry because I could not be evicted, that I would not become homeless. The notices continued to come and I finally received a notice to vacate by July 14th. I continue to recieve messages from Mr. Elias not to worry, that he would find me housing, he had started another company doing the same thing, and that he would use this company to find me housing. I went to the rental office and tried to negotiate renewing the lease in my name. I had paperwork proof that I had continiously without failure paid my rent and paid on time to Elias Consulting, they however failed to pay the apartment complex. I submitted several apartment complex names to Mr. Elias starting in May, the first email I received back showed that all the affordable apartments were listed on his bankruptcy. His new company had not started yet. I continued to send him names of apartments, and they either didnot do corporate leasing, or either were way out of my affordability range, because even if the rent was manageable at 1400.00 per month, I would still have to pay him the 20% extra per month. For a whole month my application has been pending at Orchard Pond for renewal. My former landlord has sold his home and I have no way of contacting him, and Orchard Pond will only except talking to him of my seven years of rental history prior to moving into Orchard Pond, although I supplied them and Elias Consulting wth a signed rental history background check form that was required by Elias Consulting at the beginning of my lease and confirmed by Elias when they accepted me into the program, plus they are asking for an additonal 1st month rent at the complex if approved. I do not have the funds to pay half a months rent, plus 1 months security deposit and then have August rent in full 15 days later. I have asked Elias Consulting many times about the 1 month security deposit I paid him, to help those who have been or being evicted because of his negligence and he does not respond. If the lease is renewed in my name, this would release him of any obligation, plus the fact that I paid the 300.00 initial security deposit to the complex in case of damages. His only response for the nightmare that he caused is that if he somehow miracalously find me an apartment I don't have to pay him the consultation fee or the credit check fee again, but I would have to pay the apartment complex the application fee and deposit required by them. He still maintains the 1 month security deposit and must start paying the 20% once I move in. Nothing about the moving expenses I will occur because of this move, and I did nothing wrong. To date he has still not found me a place to live and I must be out by the 15th of July. I put in an application at another complex that is more lenient about credit if you have good rental history. So far they accepted the rental history background but said that if approved, I would still need to come up with the 1 month's rent security deposit. I am a single mother, with a 10 month old grandchild that I am also now taking care of and I just don't have the funds. Over a six week period of time I could pay back a loan if I was able to obtain one., but I have credit issues and no bank account. My daughter has a bank account that we use to pay bills. I am trying so hard to recover from the debts the death of my husband created, but I can't do that and clear my credit, if I can't obtain housing. I have no family close by, or anyone to cosign, these days just about everyone I know is having some sort of financial setback. Please is there anyone who can help. If anyone out there knows of a way or anyone who would be willing to help. Please let me know. My email address is I have an email and paper trail to prove everything I stated above.

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    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:15PM
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Dear Tonia, the way I found this posting and website alltogether is by doing a search on the Elias Consulting Group! I had been searching for their company for a week now. Reading your story truly bought tears to my eyes, as I am a mother of 3 with a grandchild and struggling through my own life to make it. The best and only gift i can give to you now is prayer. I will definately keep you and your fam in my prayer, as your story is VERY similar to mine! I went to use this service some years back, when my first husband passed away, but by the grace of God, I decided to figure things out on my own, and was able to rent a place. I re-married, had another baby and things went bad again, when I separated. I am at a point in my life now, where I am struggling once again, with 2 new members added to the family and recently decided that I'd try to use the Elias Group. I couldnt believe it while I read your story. They were my only hope! Well, you know, God dont bring us to it, if He cant bring us through it. So stay strong, sister, and I pray that God sends a "break-through" for all that are without homes. I'll be praying for you.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 3:48PM
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I can only suggest that for your peace of mind and sanity, whether or not they can help you directly with the mess, find some women's group to hook up with. They will at least help you get things sorted out a bit by talking it all through with you and may well also have some tricks up their sleeves, if only steering you to the right (and affordable) lawyers, and/or other agencies you might not be aware of, and hold your hand while you do it. You need to step back a bit and breathe, get things in perspective and believe they can be fixed, however long it might take. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 7:59PM
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