In retrospect, it was eye opening how gullible everyone involved was (myself included), and how little the police did about it.
For every appartement I've since rented I checked the official register to make sure my future landlord actually owns the place...
Sorry for the stupid question, but what does this mean? How does one check this?
Landlord ends up no rent and new renter lost money and has no place to live. If scammer used a fake/stolen identity then it's practically impossible to do anything.
The idea is they take the sublessee's deposit and first rent payment, don't pay the owner the rent, and vanish. The sublessee has now payed deposit + rent but has nowhere to live (as the landlord is unpaid).
This happened to my relative when someone owed her $9000 in rent. We were able to retrieve most of it via small claims court. It also helped he was dumb enough to leave bank papers behind when he was evicted so it made the process easier. A credit agency is handling the rest.
Main page for California small claims courts. Some things can be done online.
As someone asked somewhere, "Why does Twitter need hundreds of developers? It's basically a CRUD interface."
The business model as I understand it is they pay for any missing roommates rent until the spot is filled? Maybe they had a fragmentation problem? 30 people move into 10 rooms, 10 people move out, negative 30% income.
If you rile up a mob (and an internet mob certainly counts), even if you don't do so directly but let "the comment section figure it out", and then don't get that content moderated, you lose whatever legal standing you might have had if the courts need to become involved. Any lawsuit you file will get thrown out immediately.
Which is why on Reddit the mods will aggressively redact any attempt to identify legal parties. You might want to name and shame, but that is a destructive desire.
Historically a lot of those people rented from their local government and so not mistreating them was a matter of government policy, subject to oversight by voters like me who certainly do have time and money. But these days it's likely to be whoever has the cheapest private rent offers. Local governments have been defunded so much they may not even have anybody left to even enforce licensing rules, so crooks who shouldn't even legally be letting properties can steal with impunity.
Courts try to help. If you get to court. But most of these vulnerable people never will.
In chicago the land lord must tell you exactly where the money is deposited pay you interest, and provide a precise disclosure from the city (even if there’s no deposit) or the whole lease is invalid. Most land lords therefore charge non-refundable “move in fees”. Other cities are different.
Many Triplebyte alums have no degree or no formal CS training yet the test shows they are among the top software engineers in the world and deserve high salaried jobs.
IMHO we live in an age where maybe some more smart people should be turning their minds towards affecting public policy.
There's also the tale of the Boston Marathon bombing, where some "over-enthusiastic" Reddit users took it upon themselves to solve the crimes based on footage from security cameras. The Reddit Detectives managed to hound and accuse the wrong people: https://www.businessinsider.com/reddit-falsely-accuses-sunil...
So Reddit is very anxious to avoid unleashing the zombie horde again, hence its very strict policies about naming companies or individuals.
I hope that it burns itself out and the web as a whole moves on from it.
Maybe the lesson to be learned is that the media needs to know what they are dealing with before going with the "Reddit says" storyline.
Edit: To clarify, I’m talking about naming them in the Reddit post. There’s already another set of comments here trying to figure out who they are.
That risk is not something that is understood by most end users, where in this case "end users" includes landlords and other people "on the ground". Those people made an agreement with the startup in good faith, and I contend that faith has been violated, to the potential financial ruination of (at least) a subset of the tenants, and possibly (depending on their financial position) a fair subset of the landlords.
(It's worth noting the Reddit post was made about a day ago. In my rental agreement, for example, I would now be in violation for failing to pay rent to the landlord. I expect many of the tenants are now in that same position.)
I contend that you should not be allowing things like this to be precipitated.
Yes, I'm looking at you, YC. Yes, I'm looking at you, A16Z. And all of the other VC organizations, _and their alumni networks_. With this case serving as an example, I think you have a self-policing problem.
You might say something along the lines of "Oh, it [the startup] wasn't affiliated with any of us", or "Oh, that 'VC' isn't an actual VC", or "Oh, we didn't know them". In an instance like this, I don't think that matters. What matters is two things:
1. If not illegal, I contend that the actions of the startup (and maybe the VC) were at least highly immoral.
2. From the landlord's perspective, they see this as a startup and a VC. Maybe that's not what they actually were, but that doesn't matter. For this point, it doesn't matter what the reality was, it matters what the perception _is_.
I suggest two actions:
1. You (the same collective 'you' as above) should immediately reach out to the poster, to learn both about their tenants and to get in contact with the representative that the landlord was working with. You should then use that contact to identify other landlords where this has happened. Make the tenants whole through at least April, if not April and May.
2. Create a framework to prevent things like this from happening. I admit that I'm being _way_ to vague here, but that is because I do not have enough expertise in what you do, to make a concrete suggestion. Instead, I am calling out the problem, so that you can use your knowledge and experience to formulate a solution. For example, many of you have talked about—or otherwise targeted—basic income. Why not tackle this first.
Are you saying that organizations that just happen to be in the same general business should be covering for the fraud of unrelated companies? Should Stanford be paying back the students of Belford University?
Suppose an airline collapses, leaving passengers stranded. Better run airlines _could_ say "Sucks to be you, choose a better airline next time" and charge full fare to anybody stranded trying to get home. But actually they mostly don't do that, usually "rescue" fares will be offered at a steep discount to secure good will. A customer who has a now worthless $500 ticket often finds that a rival company will swap that plus $50 for a ticket home on their plane.