RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- "I don't want to keep this information to myself and let it keep happening to other people," says Samantha Mitchell an NC State graduate who is just one of many speaking out against their former landlord, Evagelia Eustathiou, who also goes by Lisa Eustathiou.
Eustathiou owns Apollon LLC and has several rental properties along Dixie Trail, which is desirable for NC State students due to its proximity to campus. The renters we talked with say the location was the only good experience they had when it came to their landlord and rental.
When Mitchell moved into the rental she says there were problems right away. "It was absolutely disgusting," she adds. On the first day of moving in, Micthell took pictures that showed dirty floors and air filters. She said in the kitchen there were broken appliances, plus lots of cleaning in the bathroom, and the water wasn't clear. "We spent three hours cleaning the living room, like washing the walls and cleaning the floors and trying to run the water so it wasn't brown anymore, just really deep clean," she adds. Her mom Deborah Micthell was right there with her daughter while moving in. She says, "State of shock it was so disgusting."
Besides the cleanliness of the rental, Mitchell's roommate Sydney Kim had another problem.
"I walked upstairs to my room. There was no air conditioning upstairs." Kim says she reported the issue right away to Eustathiou, but it took weeks to correct. These renters were paying $4,000 a month to rent the home and say they didn't expect to have so many problems with the home or landlord during their yearlong lease. Km adds, "I almost had to like guilt her into putting a lock on our door, which I feel like safety should be a number one priority, especially for teenage girls living in a house alone."
However, the biggest problem these renters faced happened after their lease was up and they moved out. Mitchell says, "On August 1st, I texted her asking when we'll see our deposit. After 30 days, we got a letter in the mail with all the charges. She just makes all this up so she can keep the deposit and hope that you don't fight her for it. The charges total more than $5,800. $2800 for 14 missing window treatments, but the girls say when they moved in their pictures show that window treatments are not there. Mitchell adds, "Even though we didn't have curtains in the house all year where she said they're supposed to be, and she's charging us."
Another charge is for $300 for not cutting the grass. Micthell says she has the receipt to prove they paid to have the grass cut before moving out. Another charge was $775 for cleaning the rental and appliances and $450 to treat the floors. The girls took pictures when moving out to show they cleaned.
Kim adds, "All of the rooms were clean." Not only did their landlord, Eustathiou keep the $4,000 deposit, but added $1,800 worth of additional charges. Kim says, "I don't have the money for that, nor do I even want to pay the lady because I didn't do anything wrong."
These former NC State students aren't alone. Dawn Trivette couldn't believe the list of charges that Eustathiou sent her and her roommates. "$23,000. I just was like, you're kidding me," Trivette added. It was no joke, $23,000 in charges after moving out from their Dixie Trail rental also owned by Eustathiou. A big chunk of the $23,000 is $18,000 in fines for having a homemade table the landlord didn't approve of, plus $2,700 in interest for not paying the fine. Trivette says, "We used it a lot and she just hated it. She didn't like it at all."
Besides that, charge, Eustathiou also charged them for similar items to the other renters, like not cutting the grass, cleaning, and hundreds of dollars worth of charges for travel charges for having someone drive from Greensboro to Raleigh to-do items around the house. Trivette says throughout their lease they had nothing but problems with Eustathiou. After Wilson started asking questions, Eustathiu sent Trivette and her roommate a new list of charges they owed. She removed the more than $20,700 in charges related to the table, but still claims they owe her $4,796 in other charges.
Besides these past renters, Troubleshooter Diane Wilson has heard from several other renters who also say they never got their security deposits back from Eustathiou and they also were added hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of charges they say they are not responsible for as they left the rental cleaned and in good condition.
Attorney Michael Avery with University Student Legal Services says his office has been hearing complaints from NC State students about Eustathiou for more than 15 years.
"She has been on our radar for quite some time and considering that she only has four properties here that says something," Avery adds. He says his office has tried to help students as much as they can and there appears to be a pattern of the landlords' actions. He says, "If she's offended by something that she feels she can assess a fine and define what that fine is, even though it's not anywhere in the lease. It's not anymore under the law, but just comes up with it. In my experience, she just seems to think that she could do what she wants to do."
We tried to get Eustathiou's side of the story but she said she's not interested in talking. ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson also reached out to Eustathiou's attorney and has not heard back.
However, her past renters and their parents say they are tired of keeping quiet. Deborah Mitchell adds, "She's been doing this for years and years and years and taking these young kids, just taking their money, just taking it, and no one no one seems to stand up and I cannot let this continue.
Some of these past renters say they're considering small claims court to try and get their security deposits back. Attorney Avery says they have tried to help students the best they can, but when it comes to court action it's tough as you need all renters on the lease on board and many times, these students move on and graduate once they realize they're not getting their security deposits back.
Since ABC11's investigation began, the NC Attorney General's Office says they have received four complaints against Eustathiou and are reviewing those complaints and encouraging any tenants to file a complaint. The NC Real Estate Commission says they are investigating after former renters filed complaints. You can file complaints with both of those offices.
The best advice for renters before signing any lease is at the very least Google the landlord's name or company and see past renters' experience. Also, on the first day of moving it, document the condition of the rental, take pictures and video, and report in writing all problems. When moving out, do the same. Lastly, take a very close look at the lease as there is a lot of fine print, but worth reading.