Unauthorized Rent Discounts Leave Tenants Owing Money

If someone offered you a break on your rent, would you take it? Folks at Savannah's Windmill Apartments thought they were signing up for great deals. Instead they got one big financial headache. Tenants say they were offered incentives to pay their rent early, anywhere from $50 to a free month's rent. It turns out all these deals were unauthorized. The property manager split, and the owners want the rest of their money.

Tenant Will Grant thought he was saving some cash. His property manager offered discounts for the first dozen tenants who paid their rent early. And, if you won a raffle, rent would be free one month. "I'm a full-time student," he told us. "I can use all the help I can get."

Every month, these deals were posted on tenants' doors. This week, they had a new letter on their doors, a warning telling them all deals they had paid for were unauthorized and their property manager had skipped town.

Just like Grant, Jim Harnisch jumped at the offers. "Well, I was a little suspicious," he said. "That's why I started keeping better receipts." He guessed right. Now, he and the rest the Windmill tenants who paid their rent early looking for deals have to scrape up their receipts. The complex's owners sent a letter to all the residents, warning if they can't prove they had a deal, they'll have to pay up.

"Hopefully they can honor the discounts," said Will Grant. "If they can't, then many of us are ready to go." (Grant did save all of his receipts.)

We spoke with the asset manager for Windmill Apartments. She claims, in spite of the letter, no one will be forced to pay additional money. They are just asking for cooperation from tenants. Meanwhile, tenants say they will be contacting the attorney general's office and their own attorneys if they are forced to make up the difference for the bogus bargains they were given.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com