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Apr 11, 2013 11:05 PM by Eric Ross

Tenants warn of rental scam on Craigslist

A group of Colorado Springs tenants are warning anyone thinking about using sites like Craigslist to find rental properties.

More than a half dozen folks have come forward saying the deal they were promised turned out to be a dud.

A house located at 1925 Chamberlin in Colorado Springs was listed for rent on Craigslist with rooms going for an average of $350 a month with the promise of all utilities paid. However, when tenants moved in, they say promises quickly turned into lies.

"At first the water was working and the heat was working," tenant Katrina Cerillo said. "Everything was just fine."

Just a few days after moving in, the power was disconnected and the water was shut off.

"Things just went down hill from here," she said.

She's not the only one left in the dark. About 6 others renting separate rooms are left without heat or running water.

"I called him and said ‘hey, the power is off in the house and we kind of need the power on because we have food in the fridge and just bought groceries,'" Cerillo said. "He fed us this lie saying he paid the bill at 5p.m. and it was too late for the crew to turn the power back on."

On a hunch, Cerillo called the power company. She says they told her there was a past due bill in the amount of $1,100 which needed to be paid.

Everyone we spoke with living at the house on Chamberlin tell us they rented rooms from the same landlord, a man by the name of George Peronne and are adamant he promised them utitilities and water were included in their monthly rent.

5 Uncovers Peronne does not own the home at 1925 Chamberlin. Instead, he's renting the property and subleasing rooms to turn a profit.

"This is a scam," Anthony Jackson said. "This is a flat out scam and if the (justice) system can stop this man from doing this to other people, then I think we won this battle."

Jackson is a homeowner who says he rented his house to Peronne who ran the same alleged scam by subleasing rooms, promising paid utilities and then refusing to pay the bill.

When Jackson found out about this operation, he parted ways with Peronne.

"He is ripping people off," Jackson said. "It's all about the money."

There are also allegations Peronne is terminating lease agreements early without offering refunds in order to collect money from new tenants moving in.

"I've seen him move stuff out of people's rooms into the garage or onto the curb before they were supposed to move out," tenant Ronald Jacobson said.

Right now, tenants say they are at a loss. They say Peronne won't return their security deposit, and their electricity and water is still disconnected.

News 5 participated in an undercover sting Thursday afternoon where Peronne was supposed to show up and show a prospective tenant a room. We waited an hour and a half, but he never showed up.

News 5 also placed calls to Peronne for comment, but we have yet to hear anything back.

Tenants who feel their landlord is not keeping up with his/her end of the deal should first file a formal complaint with them.

Because tenants and landlords are dealing with contracts, a civil case could be filed.

It's always recommended you read over contracts and get all agreements in writing. Verbal agreements rarely stand up in court.

To protect homeowners from dealing with sublease situations, contracts need to specify their property can't be subleased to other tenants.

Craigslist postings regarding this alleged scam were found in the "rooms and shares" tab under "housing".

The listings contains a (719) area code number to call. The last four digits are 0862.

 

 

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