Cary family out thousands of dollars after paying for rental home sight unseen

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Saturday, November 19, 2022
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RENTAL WARNING: Don't let the market pressure you into paying up for a rental you have not seen in person.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Despite the real estate market cooling, it's still competitive when it comes to trying to find a rental.

A Triangle family thought they found the perfect rental in a desirable Cary neighborhood, only to refuse to move it due to the condition of the home, which meant they were out thousands of dollars

Darren Critcher and his wife found a listing for a home for rent in Cary's Prestonwood neighborhood. From the pictures advertised on the rental website, it looked like the perfect home for their family.

"Very nice, definitely somewhere we want to live--it was clean," Critcher said.

After doing the virtual tour online Critcher and his wife were ready to move forward.

"We felt a little pressured because they were asking us to pay the first month's deposit. So we did to get it off the market and then pay the first month's rent," Critcher explained. When they signed a lease it meant they had to pay $6,400 upfront without ever seeing the home in person, just trusting the pictures on the rental listing.

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When move-in day arrived and the Critchers got inside the home for the first time, there were problems.

"Did the initial inspection and that's when we found all the mold, all the dog feces everywhere, all the spider webs, all the broken glass, all the electrical outlets weren't secured to the house," Critcher said.

His wife snapped pictures and took videos of the black that you could visibly see on the carpet, stains on the wall, a dirty air filter, and bathroom tiles. Outside the home on the artificial turf in the backyard, Critcher said there were 15 piles of dog feces.

"I said that we were not moving. We would like our deposit back and they said we had signed a year lease and we were responsible," Critcher said.

He reached out to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson and she contacted the rental company. A representative said the Critcher's could have seen the property in person before signing the lease and paying any money. When it comes to the photos on the listing, and how they differ from what the Critchers saw, the representative said a third party takes the listing pictures and they don't enhance or Photoshop to ensure an accurate representation of the property. The representative blamed the Critchers' photographs, saying they were close-ups that targeted imperfections at the rental.

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The representative for the rental company also said all properties are assessed by a third-party vendor and they also do their walkthrough before a tenant moves in. When it comes to the $6,400 the Critchers paid, the representative adds per the NC Lease Agreement they are responsible until the property is re-rented. It did take about a few weeks, but a new renter is now in, and the Critchers said they got a little more than half of their money back.

In this rental market, it is key to not feel pressured to rent or buy a home. You need to take the time to do your research, get inside the home, and don't rely on pictures or what's stated online. If you find problems, don't sign a lease or pay any money, until you get confirmation on what will or won't get fixed.

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