WeHousing, a booking company that focuses on housing international students living in the U.S., has allegedly failed to pay rent for a number of students at UCR who do business with WeHousing.
Scott Talkov, the assistant director of the legal clinic at UCR and a real estate, business and media litigation attorney at the law firm of Reid & Hellyer, APC in Riverside contacted the Highlander and claimed that 23 students contacted him and claimed to have prepaid their rent through Aug. 15 or 31, 2019. According to Talkov, these students were charged for a full years’ rent at the Highlander at North Campus. These students learned that their funds were allegedly embezzled such that WeHousing is no longer paying the students’ rent to the landlord, stated Talkov.
Talkov claimed that the company, “allowed the UCR students to fall victim to a prepaid rental scam whereby the tenant, WeHousing, collected rent up front from the students, made those students subtenants at the property, then absconded with the students’ money.” The students are considered subtenants meaning that they can be subject to an unlawful detainer if WeHousing does not pay the landlord.
Talkov stated that WeHousing failed to remit rent to landlords that has already been paid to WeHosing by approximately 30 students at UC Riverside. Talkov added that he believes it is obvious that there are likely hundreds of breached contracts. “A bankruptcy will ensure that all of your creditors, including landlords and students, are paid ratably for their damages, including what will almost certainly be a failure to return rental deposit,” stated Talkov in an email to Alan Gao, the founder and managing director of WeHousing. Talkov stated, “Your continued demand for payment of rent from students while your corporate fails to pay the landlords causes me great concern.”
A chapter seven bankruptcy trustee, stated Talkov, will be able to investigate where the money went and whether it was embezzled. “My office will need to protect the rights of the students through the bankruptcy process absent a solution involving full payment of the sums already paid to you for all rent and rental deposits under the contract either 1) directly to the landlord, 2) to the Associated Students of UC Riverside to be held in trust for the students, or 3) to my law firm trust fund to be held and paid for to the landlord and/or the students,” wrote Talkov.
Gao told Talkov that four of his clients that Talkov identified are not pre-paid residents through August. Gao claimed that they did not pay May rent to WeHousing and did not notify them if they have paid the Highlander at North Campus office. He stated that WeHousing has reached out to some of Talkov’s clients and reached agreement.
Talkov requested that Gao email him by Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at noon with a report listing all of the students at UCR that have prepaid their rent and the status of the resolution of each case, ideally showing that all of the cases have already been resolved. As to the students who paid on a month to month basis, Talkov asked that his report provide a completed or future resolution of their rental deposit. If the report did not meet Talkov’s satisfaction, Talkov would meet with the UCR students affected to discuss proceeding with legal action.
After the report was sent, Talkov stated to the Highlander that, “Mr. Gao’s report did not meet with my satisfaction as he provided no definitive resolution with Highlander at North Campus, did not remit the full rent owed for June, July and August, 2019, and appears to be unlikely to remit the rental deposits owed to the students when they vacate their units.” Talkov stated that he is currently working with Highlander at North Campus on a resolution.
Alan Gao did not respond to request for comment from the Highlander. This story is ongoing.