Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro landed an explosive courtroom victory Thursday—and Your Content is first to report that the Honorable Christine Ward has granted Shapiro’s request directing tenants of the hard-nosed real estate firm and its affiliates to stop paying rent and other amounts payable immediately.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that the Honorable Christine Ward of the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court entered an order directing tenants of Vision Property Management and its affiliates to temporarily stop paying rent and other amounts payable under their contracts with the companies. Judge Ward also ordered that any failure to pay Vision Property Management during this time was not in violation of any tenant’s contract with Vision. This order was issued because Vision was failing to pay a portion of consumer rent money into escrow as required by a prior injunctive order.
“I am pleased to announce that Vision and the other defendants have been ordered to temporarily stop collecting rent from Pennsylvania consumers who are living in Vision homes,” said Attorney General Shapiro, “Saving Pennsylvanians money during a pandemic, when millions are unemployed and millions more are struggling to put food on the table, is crucial. We are doing our best to try to keep these consumers in their homes and ultimately to put them on a path that will provide a fair shot at ownership of those homes.”
There are presently approximately 43 families living in Vision homes in Pittsburgh, 20 in Philadelphia, and more than 170 others in 52 other counties across the state.
Mary Ann Webb of Aliquippa, who entered into a lease with Vision in 2014, told the Attorney General’s office, “I entered into a lease with Vision Properties with the understanding that I would own my home if I kept up with payments for seven years. I intended to live in that house for the rest of my life. I spent hundreds of dollars to replace and repair plumbing, and I bought a new water meter, hot water tank, washer, and dryer. After all of this, Vision suddenly claimed I didn’t keep up with payments and evicted me from my home. This injustice has been horrible, but I will continue to fight because I can only imagine how many other people they did this to. I’m grateful that the Attorney General’s Office is stopping Vision from hurting anyone else.”
In October 2019, the Office of Attorney General filed a Complaint against Vision Properties and affiliates because the company was luring consumers into entering “rent to own” agreements on poorly-maintained, foreclosed houses. Defendants failed to disclose that these agreements provided no ownership rights to consumers unless they exercised an overpriced option, and consumers faced immediate ejection if they fell behind on payments. Provisions in Vision’s agreements making consumers responsible for expensive repairs required to make the homes safe to live in are unlawful. Vision also utilized an “Agreement for Deed” and other contract formats that are also targeted in the lawsuit and subject to the Court’s “stop payment” order. An order of the Court is also currently in place prohibiting Vision and other defendants from evicting or suing any consumer.
Any Pennsylvania resident who has questions about this order, or who believes they have been victimized by Vision Property Management or its affiliates, or by any other “rent to own” or “for sale by owner” scammer, should filed a complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov, or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555, or [email protected].