The foreclosure contagion is spreading.  This morning, Arizona Tenants Advocates (ATA) was exposed to the wrath of innocent tenants who have been infected.

The Bethany Group, one of the nation’s largest multi-family rental real estate companies, has flat lined.  Based in California, its CEO, Greg Garmon, has fled the scene, leaving behind tens of thousands of tenants living in shambles.  All local Bethany Group properties are in court receivership under the auspices of bankruptcy, with foreclosure a likelihood for those communities unable to be sold in the interim.

Tela Verde Apartments, in Glendale, faces a water shutoff March 11, 2009.  The pool at Alante at the Islands, in Chandler, is pea green, and weeds everywhere are overgrown.  Office staff at all complexes have not been paid in over a month.  The offices are closed.

Multiply this by thirteen apartment complexes in the Valley, and you have a fair idea of how around 20,000 individuals may find themselves facing a Phoenix summer out in the hot, looking for new housing.

Today’s meeting, at The Coves at Newport, 5205 W. Thunderbird Rd., Glendale, drew about 200 concerned and irate residents.  Several television stations were present.  Tenants asked about utilities and repairs, rental payments, whether they would have to leave soon, and if they could leave soon.  Many were just fed up.  They had all paid rent, but Bethany Group skipped out on its fiduciary duty to transmit the monies for its mortgage, taxes, utilities, wages and upkeep.

One website posting charges that Garmon had risked tenant monies investing in Russian oil.  Apparently, at this juncture he is nowhere to be found.  I suggest searching in Crawford.

Repeatedly, tenants voiced frustration at having to go through legal procedures to terminate, when clearly Bethany had failed to fulfill its legal obligations.  Ken Volk, ATA’s president, explained that any new owners could choose to enforce the lease, or if the property is foreclosed, to void the lease on very short notice.  In order for tenants to terminate, it would be necessary for them to issue noncompliance demand notices, and then await whether management would comply.  Volk cautioned that everything must be documented, at each step of the way, including vacating and delivery of possession.  Other tenants asked about security deposits, which are likely lost to the wind.  But Volk stated that it would be essential for every tenant to demand the deposits, anyway, because it puts management on a 14-day time constraint to reply with any deductions or claims.

Suddenly, up chirped manager Cameo Dawn, announcing that 707 Management, out of Las Vegas, was now running The Coves at Newport.  She said that the office would be open hereafter, that the water would not be turned off, and that repairs and maintenance would be brought current.  The existing staff had been hired by new management.

Thank you, Cameo, for that performance.  Now we can all go home, knowing that we can trust you to perform all the repairs that have been so neglected for so many months.  You have turned a new leaf, or at least we saw the face you chirpingly presented.  She even welcomed Arizona Tenants Advocates to the complex, but as she turned away tenants conveyed that her other face was dissing.  Quite the diss and tell.

Most tenants were very skeptical that anything good would come about.  They complained about the mold and leaks that have been consistently ignored, constituting a health hazard.

At least some matters were clarified.  Contrary to news reports, Cameo acknowledged 707 Management is not purchasing the property.  She stated that the property would likely be in receivership for years to come.

So what else is new?  Perhaps the other high-heeled shoe is about to drop.  Is 707 Management just another Las Vegas gamble about to hit the skids row?

- Ken Volk -
March 8, 2009

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