Tenants in a Central Valley condo complex with ties to the mastermind of a San Diego real estate swindle are facing eviction and displacement as their units progress through foreclosure. Now, a statewide tenant advocacy group is calling on government officials in Kern County and the city of Ridgecrest to protect tenants in the 300-condo complex La Mirage.

A recent voiceofsandiego.org investigation found that McConville used rented identities to buy 81 condos in Escondido and San Marcos last year. Most of those condos are already in foreclosure, and renters in those condos are trying to figure out what will happen next. Similar issues have arisen in the condo complexes associated with McConville elsewhere in the state, including more than 40 in Linda Vista and 100 in Fresno.

The advocacy group, Tenants Together, takes calls from tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure in its hotline (415.495.8012) and has received “numerous calls” from tenants in the complexes. Its first action focuses in Ridgecrest.

“Tenants are catching on to what’s happening and are going to be taking their message to city hall in Ridgecrest tomorrow,” said Andy Blue, Tenants Together organizer.

The group’s executive director, Dean Preston, said the tenants are “innocent victims of a real estate scam” and that local officials should protect the tenants and “investigate potential criminal conduct by McConville and Diamond House.”

Here’s what Tenants Together found:

McConville’s company, Diamond House Development, which manages the La Mirage condos there, is continuing to collect rent from the tenants even though the mortgages are not being paid and the units are in various stages of foreclosure, Blue said.

From the group’s press release:

Diamond House has even issued notices threatening eviction if rent is not paid in 3 days, despite the fact that the properties are in the process of being taken over by banks through foreclosure. In one recent case, Diamond House served a notice demanding rent payments on the same day the house was scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction.

Tenants have also reported that property managers removed bank notices regarding pending foreclosure sales in an apparent effort to keep them in the dark on the status

of their homes.

“We’ve paid our rent but we’ve been deceived and treated unfairly. Many of us are confused and we fear we’re losing our homes,” said La Mirage tenant Jimmy Patterson.

My colleague, Will Carless, reported this update on the renters’ situation in the Escondido complexes yesterday.

KELLY BENNETT

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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