McConville Tenants Take to City Hall

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Kelly Bennett
voiceofsandiego.org

Tenants in a Central Valley condo complex
with ties to the mastermind of a San Diego real estate swindle are
facing eviction and displacement as their units progress through
foreclosure. Now, a statewide tenant advocacy group is calling on government officials in Kern County and the city of Ridgecrest to protect tenants in the 300-condo complex La Mirage.

A recent voiceofsandiego.org investigation
found that McConville used rented identities to buy 81 condos in
Escondido and San Marcos last year. Most of those condos are already in
foreclosure, and renters in those condos are trying to figure out
what will happen next. Similar issues have arisen in the condo
complexes associated with McConville elsewhere in the state, including
more than 40 in Linda Vista and 100 in Fresno.

The
advocacy group, Tenants Together, takes calls from tenants whose
landlords are in foreclosure in its hotline (415.495.8012) and has
received "numerous calls" from tenants in the complexes. Its first
action focuses in Ridgecrest.

"Tenants
are catching on to what's happening and are going to be taking their
message to city hall in Ridgecrest tomorrow," said Andy Blue, Tenants
Together organizer.

The group's executive director, Dean
Preston, said the tenants are "innocent victims of a real estate scam"
and that local officials should protect the tenants and "investigate
potential criminal conduct by McConville and Diamond House."

Here's what Tenants Together found:

McConville's
company, Diamond House Development, which manages the La Mirage condos
there, is continuing to collect rent from the tenants even though the
mortgages are not being paid and the units are in various stages of
foreclosure, Blue said.

From the group's press release:

Diamond
House has even issued notices threatening eviction if rent is not paid
in 3 days, despite the fact that the properties are in the process of
being taken over by banks through foreclosure. In one recent case,
Diamond House served a notice demanding rent payments on the same day
the house was scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction.

Tenants
have also reported that property managers removed bank notices
regarding pending foreclosure sales in an apparent effort to keep them
in the dark on the status of their homes.

"We’ve
paid our rent but we’ve been deceived and treated unfairly. Many of us
are confused and we fear we’re losing our homes," said La Mirage tenant
Jimmy Patterson.

My colleague, Will Carless, reported this update on the renters' situation in the Escondido complexes yesterday.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document may contain copyrighted
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