Renters beware - Is your landlord legit? | News
LITHONIA -- A Lithonia woman is on edge and fears she's about to put out. Barbara Holmes believes she's been duped over a forged deed and worries there are others who could be next.
"I don't have much and I've been taken advantage of," Holmes said, as she showed us the lease she signed with a man named Anthony Clark of C&A Financial Acquisitions.
"How is it you're collecting rent for something you didn't own?" she asked.
She signed her lease with Anthony Clark in September of 2011 but the deed to the property shows he didn't take control of the house until February of 2012. Holmes said, after she confronted Clark, he quit coming around for the rent.
Not surprising, since we also discovered the deed with Anthony Clark was forged.
We tracked down the last owner of record, Nina Brown, who now lives in Florida.
"Is that your signature?" I asked.
"No it's not," Brown repled.
Brown filed a police report with DeKalb County Police and Clark was arrested and in December he was charged with 'Theft by Deception'.
Police told us there had been others who had complained that Clark had also leased them houses that he didn't own. However, police say that only Brown would cooperate to proceed with the case.
Holmes is now worried about her future. She says she pumped about 9 grand into her Lithonia home because, she says, Clark had agreed to sell it to her at the end of the 1 year lease. Now she doesn't know if she'll have to move or if she'll be able to buy the house at all.
"How can you have the heart to say you need to get out of here," Brown said. However, it may not be up to her.
Brown had left the house after the septic system failed and she was 'upside down' on the mortgage. Brown isn't sure if the bank will allow agree to a short sale with Holmes, but she is not kicking her out.
If you are leasing a house, you can check property tax records to confirm the real owner of the house or go to the county court house to examine the deeds. If you're purchasing a house, it's advised that you have legal advice and deal with a title company to handle the sale.