Looking for accommodating housing can be a challenge when you have evictions, bankruptcy, criminal history, no credit or bad credit. One company is promising to help, but Better Business Bureau warns they are accruing a pattern of complaints.
Affordable Rentals Northwest or Affordable Rentals NW, Inc., a Seattle-based company, uses classified ad sites to ambiguously advertise available apartment rentals. Ads do not reveal the company name, only a phone number; recent ads featured 206-322-2084.
Washington-based consumers who respond to ads think they're contacting an apartment leasing agent or a property management company. Instead, this self-described "rental office" is a third party rental vacancy listing service that acts as a matching service for troubled renters.
For a $250 fee, Affordable Rentals NW sells listings for available properties and promises to help find housing for clients. The company assures that it can convince landlords to offer move-in specials, discounted rent, or waive deposits and credit-check fees. BBB complaints contain a wide range of accusations, alleging that the company: failed to find them a place; provided a list of substandard or unavailable properties; avoided responding to calls, e-mails and complaints; or provided nothing and refused to issue refunds.
Previously doing business as Global Management One, Affordable Rentals has an "F" rating with BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. The company has accrued 57 complaints in the last 3 years and over half are unanswered.
BBB recommends researching housing opportunities before putting down a deposit.
- Be wary of property ads or listing services that seem too good to be true. It's a warning sign when prices are far below market value.
- Avoid responding to anonymous ads. Don't proceed if basic company contact information isn't provided.
- Verify the company's legitimacy. Search online, check their website, confirm licensing and research the company's BBB Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.
- Beware of companies charging advance "finder" fees. If the company has a refund policy, get it in writing before making a payment.
- Don't sign an agreement unless you've read and understand the terms.
- Check with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for free renter resources.
Report fraud and other complaints to your BBB and the state Attorney General's Office.