I recently moved into a property owned by Rikki Brand and managed by Brand Realty in Beverly Hills. This property is located in Palm Springs but be aware as the own properties all over America so if you see Brand Realty to buy, sell or rent from RUN!
Due to an amazing set of circumstances this has been my fifth move since I moved to Palm Springs just one year ago. None of them were due to evictions or any fault on my part but when set out to move this time I was determined to find a place that I could stay and be happy in for years. I spent many weeks viewing many properties and one afternoon I noticed a "for rent" sign with a phone number on it in front of a property and called.
My call was answered by a woman who introduced herself as Jeanette and she said the units were just cleaned and still open and I could view them while she stayed on the phone with me. I loved the unit right away but upon mentioning I had a dog she said that no dogs were allowed and
even if I tried to sneak the dog in, the residents there would notice.
However, she said, the owners had many properties around town (one just down the street she directed me to to see) and another across town that she thought would be perfect for the harmony and stability I was looking for. I got the address and told her I would call her back.
I did call her back although she had called me three more times during the interval to encourage me
to see the space. When I went over there she stayed on the phone with me and directed me to two units that were available, both end units and both fantastic.
I had already been approved at two other properties but I submitted my rental application to her. (I should mention I am a former Real Estate Agent myself and property manager for several years so I know my way around.)
Over the next several days Jeanette called me repeatedly. ALthough very nice it seemed a bit desperate to me. I had been bartending lunches during peak season here for some extra money and at one point she even came into my place of business on three separate occasions. Twice alone, although she knew most of my happy hour crowd, and once with the owner of the property Rikki Brand's brother to meet me.
Somewhere in here I was approved at this property as well and liking the property and not wanting to hurt Janette I chose it. It is a wonderful unit and property. I did a walk through and made a list of everything that needed to be repaired or cleaned before I moved in and she promised it would be.
It was mostly cleaning the unit as it is very dirty and the last tenant had a cat and there was hair everywhere and getting the swamp cooler fixed.(Its June in Palm Springs and I don't want to run the AC 24/7.
Time keeps passing, nothing is being done to the unit and I finally have to start moving in if I am gonna be out of my old place by June 30th. We finally sign the lease on the 28th so I can get started. She had her copy, I had mine and we went through each page and part signing as we went. When it was done we swapped copies, signed those and swapped back giving us each a signed copy. I have her note on the lease all of the damage and repairs and cleaning that needs to get done. Finally, after holding out a day and a half for the apartment to be made ready I have to start moving on the 30th.
When I began moving in nothing had been done and all Jeanette would reply is that I should document this to show the home office how bad the cleaning and repair vendors are. So I did. Because of a heat wave that hit making moving during the day impossible and the delay in my pre-move due to waiting for the unit to be prepared I didn't get the last box out of my old space until 10:30 pm July 4th. Luckily my old landlord was very understanding and let me keep my stuff in my old place to move it slowly and hopefully get the unit fixed.
On July 5th, while I was at work and without giving me 24 hour notice they would be entering the apartments the maintenance men showed up. I had no idea they would be there and I always leave my back patio open for my dog, a 3 year old English Bulldog named Maggie to slip in and out as she needs. She has lived with me in all my apartments and I have never had a complaint or issue with her. She is small and squat and afraid of her own shadow.
Because the back gate to my patio is not properly secured (one of the items on my list) the maintenance men were able to just open the gate and walk in. Maggie, always excited to play with new folks, went out to greet them and I assume the maintenance man had a fear of dogs or something because he immediately left, still not repairing the swamp cooler or doing any of the repairs needed.
On July 6th I got a phone call from Rikki's mother Ronna Brand saying the maintenance man said the dog "jumped up on his shoulder" (she can barely reach my knee on her hind legs) the THEY DON'T ALLOW DOGS and she was serving me a 3 day notice to vacate the unit.
Right after, while still in shock not believing what I heard I was immediately left a voice mail by Janette telling me "the jig is up" (which I still have a copy of you can hear -it shows prior knowledge of the dog) and asked to call her. I try and call her. I get her voicemail. I will never see or hear from Janette again.
From here I am never served a 3 day notice and having never been given keys to my mailbox I can't get the mailed copy even if they did send it. When I finally got keys there was no registered letter.
I try and contact Brand Realty and am met with a threatening letter from their lawyers (they never even tried to speak to me. Not once. I spoke to Momma Brand for 5 minutes when she tells me to get out and that is the only time I ever speak to anybody from Brand Realty) and the letter tells me they are going to "expose the kind of person" I am in court. Show how "conspired" against Brand realty to sneak in the dog and on and on. When I reply I was told I could have the dog i am sent, with my signature. a copy of a page from the lease that clearly has a no pet policy.
Janette kept it out when we went through the lease page by page and included it in her copy knowing I would just quickly sign it thinking I had just been through the lease with her.
Completely sucker punched.
In the meantime I am still living in a filthy apartment with no swamp cooler and the property is so old I soon find out if you run the microwave and the AC at the same time it blows the fuse in the place. Having just moved in and not knowing anyone I also have no way of knowing the fuse box is on the other side of the property in another tenants gated back patio. So I am in 115 degree heat
with this dog and she can't take it so I am having to stay on friends couches.
I am angry at myself for knowing better and not getting something in writing from Janette about my dog but since no one but lawyers will respond to me even begging for the fuse to be fixed and being told with no exceptions I am being evicted and brand realty will return none of my rent or deposit (which is everything I had saved up so I can't just go get another place because they'll want deposit and first and last etc so I am stuck in this oven, I can't unpack, I have nowhere to go and I am getting a sneaking suspicion that this was a very clever scam they put together flipping units to unsuspecting pet owners doing a bait and switch never having to fix the apartments up and earning 2 months rent and the equivalent of a thirds months in deposit in just a matter of days.
This lead me to investigate Brand Realty and guess what? Janette at one time wasa licensed Real Estate Agent but her license is currently NBA! That means "No Broker Attached" so basically--- she is performing as a Real Estate agent for the Brands illegally and without a license.
It was tough figuring it out too since the card she gave me doesn't have her last name on it (red
flag #1) and has Brand's West Hollywood address on it , (although they are in Beverly Hills. I ended up finding over 4 fake address for Brand Realty) and knowing she lives locally.
I luckily found another place I was able to make arrangements with but Mr. Brand (Rikki) was so infuriated I answered his Unlawful Detainer (assuming I would just roll over and give him his money and go) when I finally got one phone call from his brother he told me he would not drop the eviction. He didn't show for court the first meeting and was THE ONLY LANDLORD that refused to make a compromise and made us reset another court date. He didn't show for that one either and thankfully the judge dismissed the case. He has FOUR homes, one in Las Vegas, on in Palm Springs, one in West Hollywood and one in Beverly Hills and this meant nothing to him. For me it was almost three months of homelessness, living out of boxes all during a Palm Springs summer but its over.
Yeah right. A month later during while bartending on a busy Friday night I am served a suppoena in front of all my customers for small claims court. He is suing me for $7,300.00 in lost rent and FOR HIS LEGAL FEES FOR THE CASE HE LOST AGAINST ME!!
Another month and a half of worry and dread gathering insurance, having to have him served with court papers and I can't afford professionals so I am calling friends in different cities all who end up at fake addresses and dead ends. I have to gather sworn statements and pay for pictures to be blown up.
In small claims you can't bring a lawyer to small claims court. Like on Judge Judy its just you, the other person and the Judge. Unless you are "above the law" Rikki Brand who shows up with FOUR lawyers who he is bold face lying to the judge are "employees" and "property managers"who are witnesses to the events but I have never seen once.
The original maintenance man that reported the dog is there and pulls me aside and apologizes. He says he can't believe Mr. Brand is doing this. Rikki goes on to not even tell half truths but flat out lie to the the Judge under oath, smiling and licking his chops the whole time like this is some game. He giggles and nudges his lawyers just some fun game for the rich while my finances, health and peace of mind are in shambles from dealing with his lying rental agent he STILL TO THIS DAY WILL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE was involved. Which leads me to ask, and I asked the judge to ask him as well " Then how did I find and move into a corner unit on a dead end street in a part of town I have never been to? Did I just let myself in with the dog? He would never answer.
Even now I am waiting to hear what the Judge rules. Although I had emails, texts and voicemails proving everything I said was true he had that one d**n piece of paper with my signature on it Janette slipped in so any day I could find out he is garnishing my wages to collect his $7,500--a quarter year's pay to me, an afternoons amusement to him. And he has the team of lawyers to make it happen too.
These people have no souls. I have never met anyone like them. They lie with no conscious they will not listen nor negotiate. I sent tons of emails BEGGING to settle all of this some other way and I never got any response except from lawyers.
Hateful, greedy, mean, vindictive and cruel Brand Realty is to be avoided at all costs.
And the funny/sad part of this is the apartment is still sitting empty and he could have had me as a long term tenant in there who is older, pays rent on time every month, doesn't have parties and would have been a fantastic tenant for years to come. Pitiful.
You have been warned.