Landlord vanishes after court rules in favor of Richmond tenant

Landlord vanishes after court rules in favor of Richmond tenant

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond man is fighting what appears to be an uphill battle just to get what he's rightfully owed.

Six months ago, a judge said Michael Porter was due hundreds of dollars from his former landlord, but he's not received any of it.

Porter is understandably on edge. He moved into the Dupont Village Apartments in Richmond in May of 2014. While there, he says repairs were either poorly done or not done at all, and he says he went without heat the entire winter. He decided to take his management company, Cogbill Land Company, to court.

"Cause I told them, you're not going to keep taking my money and [expletive] down my neck and tell me it's raining outdoors," Porter said.

A judge allowed Porter to immediately break his lease and move out within 10 days.

After he moved out, Porter was expecting his $500 security deposit to be returned. Instead, he got a letter from the Cogbill saying he'd defaulted on his lease.

Back to court Porter went, and after several stalls, a judge ruled in his favor, giving him a judgment for the $500 security deposit plus 6% interest.

That happened back in December. To date, this military veteran who scrapes to survive month-to-month has not seen a dime of that money, and he hasn't even been able to find the owner. It's why he called 12 On Your Side.

"I want the them to refund my money like they're supposed to, with my six percent interest," Porter said.

Immediately, we jumped on the case, going to the address for Cogbill, but it was a UPS store where the company apparently had a box.

We found an address on West Broad street where a company under the same ownership as Cogbill was allegedly located, but when I went there, that company had moved out and the building was under new ownership.

I even found the registered agent for Cogbill in State Corporation Commission documents and went to what I believed was the home address of that person. When I got there, the home was empty and up for sale.

Consumer attorney Ian Vance says at judgment is often not enough.

"That's just a piece of paper, you can't really do much with that," Vance said.

He says a person such as Porter who is owed money can file with General District Court for a summons for debtors interrogatory that will compel the debtor to come to court.

"They come to court and they have to tell, under oath, what their assets are, what their financial situation is like," Vance said. "You can garnish wages, you can garnish bank accounts, you can levy property."

Vance says normally it's companies coming after individuals, not the other way around.

"More than likely, if you're dealing with a bigger company, they understand that they owe this money and they're gonna come out and pay it," Vance said.

But first the company, and its owners, must be found... something that has not happened just yet.

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