Report: #1043803

Complaint Review: Cato Realty

  • Submitted: Tue, April 16, 2013
  • Updated: Thu, April 25, 2013
  • Reported By: Ashley_90 — greensboro North Carolina
  • Cato Realty
    1708 Walker Ave Apt. A
    greensboro, North Carolina
    United States of America

Cato Realty Don Cato, Don Cato Realty DO NOT RENT FROM HIM!!! greensboro, North Carolina

*Consumer Suggestion: NC lease laws

*Author of original report: update

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Don Cato is the worst landlord in all of Greensboro. He targets college kids and tries to rip them off. He rents out houses that are not up to code and that require a lot of emails for repairs.

My roommate and I have been renting from Don Cato for nine months now. We have always paid our rent on time, and have never had any serious complains other than maintenance issues. When we moved into the house there were no blinds, out of date appliances, and the ac was broken. We put in blinds, painting (after getting permission from him), added a shelf over the washer and dryer area, and my roommate replaced the fan in her room. We are both seniors who plan to move out in June, so that we can relocate to the cities where are jobs are.

This is what caused the major issue I am complaining about. Don is claiming that even though we moved into the house at the end of June, we cannot move out until the end of July. That would be a 13 month lease. He never told us about this when we originally signed the lease and moved in. We even tried to change the lease, and he still failed to mention this fact then. He also had a tenant move out in April 2012, meaning he could have been receiving rent from this individual up to July, when we had paid a security deposit and first month's rent in July as well. If he was not receiving rent from this person, then there is a precedent for us and that proves there is no reason for us to pay for 13 months when this individual did not.

After I called him with some questions about this, he proceed to say I was crazy and that I "was not even in the right mind of thinking." He claimed I knew nothing that I was talking about, and his lease always run from August to August. I told him if that were the case, then we should not have be able to move in until the end of July. When we first moved in we asked if we could wait until August, but he said he could not hold the place for that long. Don makes up rules as he goes and refuses to look at facts. Based on what he has been saying, we should not have moved in until the end of July so that the lease would run for 12 months. 

Along with him trying to get additional money from us rent-wise, he has also tried to have us pay him when we had a plumber come out to fix our drains. Don never emails his renters back and is notoriously hard to get a hold of when there is a maintenance issue, so the maintenance man he always uses told us he has an agreement with Don and to just call him along with emailing Don with there is an issue. We did this many times and never had Don say he had a problem with it. 

Then one afternoon I received a ranting and raving voicemail from Don that says we are not allowed to do this and that we will personally have to pay for having the plumber come out. After calling the plumber to see what is going on, we find out that Don owes this man $5000, and that he cut off contact because he owes money. The plumber was not going to charge us for coming out, and he never even billed Don for the labor he did. When I called Don and left a voicemail with this information, he never called back and has since dropped the matter. He was essentially trying to get money from us that was not due.

This house has had multiple problems. The ac did not work, then the heat did not work, the water was broken, the hot water was broken, and there is a roach problem. Every time we have emailed him with an issue, it takes him at least three or four days to respond and send someone out here to fix it. He never answer his phone or his emails, even though I have read receipts proving he has read them. We went without heat and hot water for three days. 

Don Cato is a crook and a terrible landlord. He will try to swindle you out of money from the day you move in. He is not a trustworthy individual, and owes money to a lot of people so he will try to get as much money from you as a renter as he can. DO NOT RENT FROM HIM!! Avoid his houses and his business, or you will be sorry just like I am.
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#1 Consumer Suggestion

NC lease laws

AUTHOR: Former Property Manager - ()

Hello renters... I am sorry you have had so many issues with this lease... There are a few suggestions you should bear in mind for this and future rentals...

In North Carolina, the paperwork means EVERYTHING... If your SIGNED lease agreement is for 13 months, I'm afraid you are stuck... You are required to either pay the imposed penalty to move out early, or pay the rent through the end of the lease term.  Most landlords require payment through the end of the lease term. 

However, with that in mind - if you vacate a rental before your lease expires, and the landlord rents the property again and new tenants move in and begin paying rent during your lease period, you are no longer legally responsible for that rent.  In North Carolina, a landlord CANNOT double-dip and penalize former tenants for rents while also collecting rents from a new tenant.

That is why the situation with whoever lived there before you is pertinent.  If they broke the lease and vacated in April, Cato Realty could legally require that tenant to pay up until the time that you, THE NEW TENANT, moved in.  So even if they moved out early, it did not absolve them of financial responsibility toward the lease agreement.

Wth that being said, if neither party can furnish a SIGNED lease agreement as proof of terms, the lease reverts to current North Carolina law, which is a month-to-month agreement without a written lease, which merely requires a 30-day notice from either party to vacate/terminate.  

In either event, the landlord has 30 days from the vacate date to notify you of the sttatus of your account and the disposition of your security deposit.  In North Carolina, they MUST specify what it ws applied to.  For instance, you cannot simply "forfeit" your deposit because you moved out early.  The deposit must be APPLIED to either damages or unpaid rent.  You do not simply lose it and then also have to pay rent through the lease term.  This is not legal in NC... 

In future, when signing a lease, be very careful to read all the terms involved and double check your lease dates and penalties.  Do not go with ANY verbal agreements with any landlord, because these cannot be honored without being written and signed by both parties.  Some leases will have an EARLY TERMINATION clause, which makes provisions for situations like yours - a tenant wishes to move prior to the lease end date.  This clause is NOT breaking the lease; it provides requirements necessary in order for the lease to be considered fulfilled.  This usually stipulates a notice term (30/60 days) and a termination fee (these can be reasonable, but sometimes are exhorbitant, up to 2 months' rent).

If there is NO termination clause, then what I stated at the outset applies: you are responsible to pay rent through the end of your lease or until the landlord rents the property to another tenant, whichever comes first.  In some cases, even if there is a termination clause, it is more cost effective to go with this option.  For example, if you only have one month left on your lease, just pay it and be done.  In that event, whatever deposit you made should be returned unless there are damages (which in your case seems unlikely).  

Be sure to get copies of whatever correspondence is sent between you and a landlord - especially things like the lease itself, and any complaints, reported issues, etc.  It is also especially important to get a copy of your notice to vacate - whether an official form or informal - and be sure it is signed/witnessed and accepted by the landlord with a date, as this proves that you did not just "skip" out on the landlord, giving him/her an excuse to provide a negative reference.

Most issues with landlords can be amicably resolved.  However, if you are having major issues and face eviction or threat of fees which sound illegal, please consult Legal Aid or an attorney of your choice to review your information.  Consults are usually under $100 for reasonable attorneys (don't pay more than that for a consultation) and you will get a realistic view of your options and legal rights.

I hope this will help you in the future!

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#2 Author of original report


AUTHOR: Renter657 - ()

My roommate and I were able to reach a congenial compromise with Don and he is letting us out of our lease early. He was very respectful this time around and really helped us out.
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