Photos: Property management company shut down by the state

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 27 at 11:48 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- From finding bats in the attic to problems with the property management company, Shylee and Jeff Tobey say they won't miss the condo they're renting after they move out.

“Gross, it's like rats with wings living in your attic,” Shylee said. “Just getting people out here to come fix things has been, it's like pulling teeth.”

The Tobeys have three more months left on their lease, but the family is packing up and leaving because the condo was foreclosed on earlier this year.

“We're being kicked out,” Shylee said.

For months, the Tobeys have been looking for another place to live and trying to get their $949 security deposit back from the property management company.

But that hasn't happened because the company, Westwood Properties LLC, closed down and its owner, Aaron Richardson, hasn’t returned the money.

“He's the broker so, apparently, he has our deposit somewhere,” she said.

3 On Your Side tried to help out the Tobeys, but we discovered Westwood Properties and Richardson have a lot more problems than failing to return a security deposit.

A recent investigation by the Arizona Department of Real Estate caused the agency to issue a cease and desist order against Richardson, claiming he and his company failed to properly manage money he took from clients and tenants.

The ADRE wrote, “Richardson and Westwood failed to maintain all monies held on behalf of clients and tenants in broker trust accounts, resulting in the shortage in the broker trust account of $268,178.84 and failed to protect the interest of clinets and tenants by not holding sufficient funds in the broker trust account to cover monies due to the owners and tenants."

The audit resulted in the suspension of Richardson's real estate license and an order for Westwood Properties to be shut down, leaving families like the Tobeys in limbo.

“That's a lot of money, and it's not just us,” Shylee said. “It's a shame that it's not just us that it's happened to.”

3 On Your Side contacted Richardson who declined to comment on the missing quarter of a million dollars.

Richardson's former business partner, Ofir Levy, wouldn't talk to us on-camera either when we showed up at another real estate business he runs -- Westwood Realty and Investments -- which is located upstairs from the company that was shut down.

Off-camera, however, Levy claimed he was working with Richardson to issue refunds.

The Tobeys say they'll believe it when they see it.

“That's a month's rent, it's groceries, it's lessons, it's tuitions for schools. I mean, it's a lot of money, especially for a single income,” Shylee said.

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