If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, you’ve worked pretty hard to pay for and maintain your home. According to Business Insider, housing accounts for about 37% of the average American’s budget. Now imagine that after all of that money and hard work, someone came to your door and told you that you don’t really own this house or that the landlord to whom you’ve been paying rent all these months or years doesn’t actually own the property.
“Detroit has had so much foreclosure and so many properties have turned over that many tenants say they have no idea who to pay rent to or who owns the property.” –Erin Einhorn, NBC News Digital
That’s the reality many people in Detroit are facing right now. They’re the victims of a “fake landlord scam” that NBC News and Outlier Media have been working to uncover for months. They report that as many as 1 in 10 tenants facing eviction in Detroit are in that situation because of this scam.
Listen: Erin Einhorn of NBC News Digital discusses Detroit’s ‘fake landlord’ scam and possible solutions.
Erin Einhorn is a national reporter with NBC News based in Detroit. She says it’s very difficult for law enforcement to crack down on a scam like this. And she says many victims are too afraid to make complaints to law enforcement in the first place due to fears of retaliation.
“It isn’t making it to police. And then when police try to investigate, they find out this person wasn’t using their real name,” says Einhorn. “So it becomes really difficult to investigate. It becomes really difficult to catch these folks.”
She says it’s in public officials’ court to do more to crack down on this problem.
“Detroit has had so much foreclosure and so many properties have turned over that many tenants say they have no idea who to pay rent to or who owns the property,” says Einhorn. “What can the city or the county do to let people know who owns their property?”