NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A North Texas woman and her boyfriend say they finally found a place to call home after she says a rental company gave her the runaround for weeks, leaving her homeless.
"It's horrible what it's doing to people," says Vanessa Garcia.
Progress Residential is based in Arizona, but it has offices all over Texas. Garcia says she paid the real estate rental agency an application and holding fee for a house, which she was promised in March.
"The house was supposed to be ready on March 31. They then pushed it back to April 5th, through to the 12th, through the 20th, through the 25th," explains Garcia.
Garcia waited for the house, but she says that became costly. Receipts show she put her belongings in storage, moved into a hotel, and, she says, paid for extra living arrangements for her brother who requires special care.
"It really did seem like...it was a take your money, and then we'll deal with the consequences of not having the home ready whenever that comes up."
By the end of April, when Progress Residential said she could finally move in, Garcia says she got the final move-in bill. She says the deposit was higher than she expected.
And, after all of her unexpected temporary living expenses, she says she could no longer afford the house.
"I had our money saved up. Our money and expenses just went out the window to storage fees, to Uhaul fees, and to hotel fees."
Garcia wanted the fees she paid Progress Residential back. And, according to email exchanges with the company, Progress Residential had promised her they would refund "all" fees, because the delay was the company's "fault."
However, Garcia says Progress Residential would not refund the hundreds she paid in an application fee. She also says they owe her for the unexpected out-of-pocket living expenses she paid while waiting to move into their home.
Determined to learn more about the company, Garcia turned to the internet. "I do a little research," she says.
And, after some digging, Garcia learned she is not the only person filing complaints.
"What I read online, other people going through it, I felt like I have the opportunity to stand up and say something to these people and to the company, and let them know that I'm not the only on that they're doing this to, and eventually that's going to catch up to them." Garcia was angry.
So, she reached out to the I-Team.
TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL COMPLAINTS
The I-Team learned the Texas Attorney General's office has received 19 complaints against Progress Residential since 2016. In records we obtained, we found accusations from written complaints where customers state "blatant" "rental fraud."
Other customers call the company a "scam." In complaints, they state they too were "told they'd be credited" but were "refused credit."
A+ RATING WITH THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU
Next, we turned to the Better Business Bureau where the I-Team found similar complaints. Customers state there was "no refund provided." I am "waiting on (a) check." The company "won't return (my) holding fee."
In fact, the BBB reports receiving more than 300 complaints nationwide in the last three years. And Progress Residential has one-point-four star rating out of five stars from customer reviews.
However, there is a catch. Progress Residential has an A+ rating on the BBB website.
Marilyn Huffman is the Director of Community Outreach for the BBB in Arizona. About those complaints, she says the company has so many customers that is a low ratio.
And, about the star rating, Huffman says, "Customer reviews currently are not actually included in the grade that we give."
HOW THE BBB GRADES
The BBB tells the I-Team its grades are based on an algorithm which calculates the following information:
-The size of the company
-How many states it operates in
-How many customers it has
-What percentage of those customers are complaining
-If there is a pattern of complaints
-And, how the business responds to complaints
"This company has earned that A+ grade," says Huffman.
Click here for more on the overview of ratings.
PROGRESS RESIDENTIAL RESPONDS
Next, the I-Team reached out to Progress Residential.
A spokesperson could not tell us how many customers or employees it has, but he referred us to the company website which states Progress Residential "has 66,000 homes across 29 metro areas."
When we searched for available homes in "Dallas," we found about 100-listings stating they are either "coming soon," "under construction, "under renovation," "newly renovated," and/or "move in ready."
On the same day we contacted Progress Residential, Garcia tells us she got an email from a manager asking to "speak with her about her experience."
The next morning, Progress Residential sent the I-Team the following statement:
Progress Residential's team is focused on providing exceptional service and a streamlined application process for high-quality, well-maintained housing options in great neighborhoods. Due to necessary renovations on a home, the move-in date for this applicant was delayed a number of times and our efforts to communicate and arrive at a solution with this individual fell short of our high standards and expectations. We are in the process of fully refunding fees paid by this applicant and are taking additional steps to remedy the situation, including offering to compensate the applicant for temporary housing.
Garcia tells us she is now working on a resolution with Progress Residential.
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