THE VILLAGES, Fla. - A property management company is being investigated by the state after Action 9 found homeowners claiming they lost thousands of dollars.
“How many people here are owed money by VIR?” Todd Ulrich asked a group of homeowners. All of them raised their hands in response.
They own homes in The Villages and hired The VIR Group to find renters and manage their properties. They've sent complaints to Florida's attorney general, claiming VIR collected thousands of dollars in rent then kept a lot of their cash.
“We've lost over $15,000,” said Katherine Kniegge, adding VIR managed several of her homes. “The biggest thing is, he kept the rents for February and March. He kept them all.”
Stacey Logrippo claims the company owes her more than $10,000. “Because they charged the renters more than they were claiming than paying me,” she said.
Action 9 first exposed complaints against VIR and its CEO, Alistair Barrett-Powell, more than a year ago after Ulrich found homeowners making similar claims.
Last year, Ulrich found Barrett-Powell at his Fruitland Park office. “Can you account for all their rent money?” asked Ulrich.
“Absolutely,” responded Barrett-Powell, “They owe us money.”
Barrett-Powell surrendered his real estate license last year, in a settlement with state regulators who were investigating complaints against him. He didn't admit guilt, but can't reapply for that license.
Instead, VIR obtained a vacation rental license to manage short term rentals and now the new group of customers claim his company is again not paying homeowners their share of the rent.
“How much does VIR owe you?” asked Ulrich. “More than $9,000,” said Mireille Regnault.
The VIR Group closed its office near The Villages. It's opened a virtual office suite near Lake Nona.
A company spokesman says no one's denied legitimate rent payments and Barrett-Powell did nothing wrong.
But the Florida attorney general's office has 50 complaints against VIR in two years and it now has an active investigation.
The VIR Group is rated “F” at the Central Florida Better Business Bureau and the bureau posted the following in reference to the company.
“It has come to BBB's attention that the business is offering compensation or incentives to individuals who post reviews. BBB does not accept reviews from individuals who have received or been offered compensation. In light of the questions that this practice raises regarding the authenticity of reviews, BBB has removed reviews that may have been affected by this practice.”
VIR says it’s settled some complaints from last year and the homeowners paid it money. The VIR Group management blames many complaints on a competitor it claims stole its customers.
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