News 8 has a Consumer Alert about a local company offering to help San Diegans find a place to rent. The name of the company is Rent San Diego Properties, and if you're thinking about paying them upfront, the Better Business Bureau says you might want to back off.
Military wife Peggy Andrews was pregnant with her daughter Sophie when she started looking for a home to rent. She went online and found Rent San Diego Properties.
"I looked at it. It seemed okay. Called my husband, he said go ahead," Peggy said.
The company offered hundreds of local online rental listings, so Peggy signed up and paid about $100. But when she got the list, some were already rented, and in the end Peggy was unable to find a house.
"They are supposed to update it every day, and I would go on there and it was the same listings, maybe one or two new ones," Peggy said.
On their website, Rent San Diego Properties promises customers a full refund if they can't find a place to rent, minus a service charge. That's where Peggy ran into more problems.
"It was horrible, absolutely horrible. I couldn't believe I had to go back and forth for months," she said.
Peggy ended up getting half her money back, after the company kept a $50 service fee. And she's not alone.
"Basically they gave me a list and they said here ya go, and the whole list was bogus. There was nothing on there that I could use," Scott Hodges said.
Scott only got half his money refunded too, after finding out many properties on his list would not accept his pet cat.
"When I looked at all the properties after I paid them, all the properties - 12 of them - were no pets allowed. Then the two that I did call were rented," Scott said.
At the Miramar offices of Rent San Diego Properties, we found owner Laverne Bosse, who defended her company's practices.
"We offer a really good service. We have a lot of landlords that love us. We have a lot of clients that love us. I can't make everybody happy all the time," she said.
The San Diego Better Business Bureau agrees on one point - not everybody is happy. They're received 24 complaints in the past year.
"This company has earned an F rating from the BBB. We don't give those out lightly, and we strongly urge customers not to do business with companies with an F rating from the BBB," San Diego Better Business Bureau CEO Sheryl Charleston said.
"Come on guys, let's not blow this up like I'm over here doing... taking advantage of people and offering a terrible service," Bosse said.
Bosse emailed News 8 phone numbers of several former clients as references. Two called us back, saying they would not use Rent San Diego Properties again. Both also wanted to know why Bosse had given out their phone numbers without permission.
"We're not perfect. We have a small company, we make mistakes. We try to rectify those mistakes and offer a good service," Bosse said.
Peggy ended up finding her own rental on Craigslist, and that didn't cost her a dime.
"I don't think this company is worth what they charge. I don't think it's worth anything," Peggy said.
Rent San Diego Properties has a valid license with the California Department of Real Estate, which is also in charge of enforcing complaints.