LAS VEGAS — Several Las Vegas homeowners have filed a lawsuit against Best Houses LLC, a local real estate company that advertises, "We Buy and Sell Houses."
The plaintiffs allege that they signed a purchase agreement for their homes with the company's principals, Peter and Janice Rzepka, only to find out that the sale was never recorded at the Clark County Assessor's Office. With property titles still in their names, the homeowners unwittingly fell behind on mortgage payments and some of the homes went into foreclosure, ruining the homeowners' credit and preventing the homeowners from buying new homes.
"I call them `rogue' Realtors," said Evan Needham, the plaintiffs' attorney. "They can't compete with the top peers in their field so they come up with creative ways to transact business and it usually comes back to impact people."
In the first complaint filed Jan. 15 in District Court, Needham said the Rzepkas agreed to pay off the mortgage loans on two separate homes purchased from Daniel and Anita Lopez and Robert Gaudreau, with escrow to be closed within 30 days. The Rzepkas never paid off the mortgages and instead rented the homes to third parties, defaulting on mortgage payments, county taxes and homeowner association dues, the complaint states.
In an amended complaint filed Feb. 9, Needham added plaintiffs Hillary Haddock, Jason Cowie and Tara and Mark Conklin. He also claimed that Best Houses has no physical commercial business location where its resident agent, Janice Rzepka, could be served with legal papers.
Furthermore, the Rzepkas never obtained a state or city business license, never filed a fictitious business name certificate and do not possess real estate or property management licenses. "Based on the above, defendants were unauthorized to do business in Nevada," the lawsuit states. "As such, all deeds, assignments, trusts, contracts, leases and other legal documents created by defendants that relate to plaintiffs' properties are void and unenforceable."
Benjamin Childs, an attorney representing the Rzepkas, said his clients are not required to have those licenses.
Childs answered the lawsuit with a counterclaim on Feb. 5, denying the allegations and filing a motion to disqualify Evan Needham and his law firm brothers, Al and Howard, from the case.
A "warranty deed" was recorded on the Lopez' property at 3312 Barnstaple Court that is in dispute, purportedly deeding Lopez' interest to Resolve LLC, a company controlled by Al Needham, Childs asserted in his motion.
Needham then initiated eviction proceedings against the tenant with a declaration from Lopez that he deeded the property to his counsel.
Childs claims the Needhams are thereby unable to ethically represent Lopez in litigation concerning the title and ownership of the Barnstaple property.
Lopez was paid $10,000 for his house by Best Houses, the attorney said.
"Guess what happens?" Childs said. "The price of real estate goes way up, so Evan Needham, who's a Realtor, calls the owner of the property and says, `You deed it to us and we'll kick out the tenants.'
"Now you own the property and the house goes up $20,000 over the year. Needham files a revocation of trust. Now it has to be duked out [in court]."
The case is scheduled for a March 18 hearing in District Court, Department 7.