Real Estate

Rent-to-own operator Vision Property Management shut down in Wisconsin

Legal battle with state continues

A Wisconsin state court effectively ended rent-to-own operator Vision Property Management’s ability to operate in the state, as the company’s battle with the state continues.

The move comes a part of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Back in June, the Wisconsin DOJ sued Vision Property Management and its various affiliates for using “misleading and deceiving business practices to induce Wisconsin consumers to lease, rent, or purchase uninhabitable properties,” in violation of the state’s landlord-tenant and mortgage banking laws.

VPM is one of the nation’s largest operators of rent-to-own homes, but has been accused of inducing consumers into leasing dilapidated properties by offering them the chance to buy the house in the future.

Wisconsin’s lawsuit claims that VPM requires the tenants to front the costs to rehabilitate the property, pay all the overdue taxes, and resolve any outstanding building code violations associated with the property.

But, according to the Wisconsin DOJ, if the tenant does not remedy those issues within a short period of time, VPM evicts the tenant and “repeats the cycle by renting the uninhabitable property to yet another Wisconsin consumer.”

The state’s lawsuit against the company is still ongoing, but earlier this week, a state judge issued a temporary injunction in the case, which prohibits VPM from conducting many of its business activities in the state while the lawsuit is open.

According to the office of Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the court order prohibits VPM from entering into new lease-to-own contracts in the state. The company is also no longer allowed to threaten to evict or evict Wisconsin tenants.

The court order also allows Wisconsin residents that are VPM tenants to terminate their leases with VPM without penalty, and seek financial damages against VPM that resulted from the company’s “prohibited acts and practices. “

According to Schimel’s office, VPM has nearly 200 properties in the state.

“This injunction will provide relief to consumers impacted by this company’s deceptive business model,” Schimel said. “Companies that deceive Wisconsin consumers are not welcome in our state and we will continue to pursue the lawsuit against VPM.”

(h/t Matthew Goldstein)

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