LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas couple is finding out the hard way, sometimes the American dream can turn on you. They bought a home, but things went south from there. 13 Investigates Anchor Tricia Kean shows how these local homeowners wound up homeless.
FLIPPED & MOVE IN READY
Check out this quaint Las Vegas house.
"Kind of like that Jetson's quirky kind of vibe. It's great. It's a cul-de-sac. Not a through street and it's quiet," says AJ Morris.
He and his wife Evie fell in love with it back in 2017. It was recently flipped and move-in ready. But you wouldn't know that, stepping into the home today. The couple says they've had problems from the start.
RAINED IN THE HOUSE
"The very first time it rained, it rained in the house," says Evie. "Like drenched," says AJ.
That leak was fixed. But a new one popped up when it rained again.
"At the same time the bathroom over here actually started flooding," says Evie. "The bathtub and the toilet," says AJ.
That's when they called a plumber who uncovered another major issue: a leak under the home's foundation.
$263,000 TO DO EVERYTHING
"Thanks to corroded sewage lines," says Evie.
That's not all. The couple says the back half of their house is actually sinking. There's also concerns about the gas line and electrical problems. The Las Vegas Department of Building and Safety declared the home substandard and forced them to move out.
"We did have an estimate done to completely remediate the home. This was before the slab leak occurred... That estimate was $263,000 to do everything to code," says Evie.
Evie and AJ say this could have been avoided. They point the finger at the company that flipped the home: VAC Fund 1. 13 Investigates obtained these old pictures of the home before the remodel.
"It wasn't open concept. There was a wall here. The stove was here in the middle. The sink was over here. There was a window here," says AJ. "Multiple plumbing fixtures have been completely rerouted. Not just renovated, but completely underground rerouted," says Evie.
REPAIRS WITHOUT PERMITS
The seller's real property disclosure form presented to the Morris's when they bought the home says no repairs were made without the required building permits. But public records show no permits were ever pulled by any licensed contractors. The Morris's claim they've tried getting help from local Real Estate Broker John Gafford, an investor with VAC Fund 1. But they say he turned them away.
"When we went and saw Gafford in his office he was like no, I'm not gonna do anything," says AJ.
LAST MAN STANDING
So 13 Investigates reached out to Mr. Gafford.
"Unfortunately the guys that got into this have all fled the state. So I'm kind of the last man standing to deal with situations like this," says Gafford.
He explained as an investor, he never had any involvement in remodeling the homes the company purchased. He also says he didn't fill out the Seller's Real Property Disclosure given to the Morris's.
"I'm not responsible for this. But yes, I was a partner in the business. So I am accountable. I'm trying to make things right. It's been very very difficult based on what they're saying," says Gafford.
He points to insurance money the Morris's collected to fix the house.
"It was a very large settlement. So I called the guy back and I said wait a second, you just got a huge insurance settlement for this. What's going on? His response was, we can do whatever we want with that money. At which point our relationship became adversarial," says Gafford.
We went back to the Morris's who admit they collected a settlement. AJ says they put that money toward repairs, but says it didn't even put a dent in the total cost. Now the two sides have lawyered up and are set to go to trial.
There are lessons to be learned here:
"Do your own research ahead of time. Look at what information might be available relative to that property address. See what documents or pictures come up," says Jennifer Lewis with the Nevada State Contractors Board.
The Board says don't be afraid to ask for a list of contractors that have performed any work on the house. Just like the Morris's, look for any permits from the building department.
"If you can tell that work has been done and you can't locate a permit, that's typically a red flag," says Lewis.
After buying a home, be sure to file a complaint if any issues come up with work that was performed.
"The Contractors Board can investigate cases against licensed contractors within four years of the work being performed. With unlicensed contractors you have a two year window from the date of that contract," says Lewis.
As for the Morris's, they've learned their lesson and say they'll do things differently next time.
"If we buy another house, before you buy, yeah you fall in love with it. But do a little bit of investigation you know," says AJ. "Yes," says Evie.