Editor’s note: The Standard Journal will continue coverage of Rentmaster in our Tuesday July 3 edition, in which we’ll cover former employees witnessing financial mismanagement.
REXBURG—When property owner Keith Bean noticed he wasn’t getting paid rent for the home he owned, he was surprised.
Bean’s rental property had been managed by Rentmaster for the past six years, and he said that until a few months ago, he’d never had any problems with the company.
“They were late getting payments to me,” he said. “I started calling them, and my tenants pay faithfully by the first of the month. By the 11th or 12th of May, I had still not been paid.”
Bean said he didn’t give up, and kept on trying to contact Rentmaster throughout May. He said they repeated the same message over and over, that the check was in the mail.
“By the end of the month I was calling them every day,” he said. “I finally got paid on June 2.”
Bean said he didn’t know why it took so long to receive payment for his rental properties, but that it was definitely concerning. He eventually decided to terminate his contract with Rentmaster after consulting with Jennifer Handy, a member of Legacy Rental Management and former Rentmaster employee who was falsely accused by Rentmaster owner Ron Jaques of embezzling company funds.
In an ironic twist of fate, Jaques himself is now under investigation for embezzling funds from another property management company he owns in Meridian. According to the Idaho Statesman, Jaques was hit by a lawsuit filed on June 11 that alleges he “took as much as $750,000 to $1 million from property owners’ trust accounts and moved it to other accounts without permission.”
However, Jaques problems with money have not been isolated to his business in Meridian. Other property owners that Rentmaster has been working with have also complained to Jaques that they haven’t received their money for the past several months.
Then on June 27, Jaques sent a letter to property owners announcing that Rentmaster was no longer servicing properties:
Unfortunately my health has made it impossible for Rentmaster to continue to serve you, your properties and your tenants. I have had multiple strokes this past year and have been advised by my Neurologist that I have to reduce my stress levels significantly in order to stay alive. As of today, property management services will be provided by Jacob Grant Property Management.
Jacob Grant Property Management has been serving owners of real estate for 10 years. They have a long term focus on relationships and real estate performance.
Please feel free to go to their website at jacobgrant.com. You can find more about how they manage properties by reviewing their owner information packet.
A few questions you may have:
When do owners get paid? Jacob Grant pays owners on the 15th of the month unless it is a weekend or a holiday. In the case of a weekend or a holiday, funds are disbursed on the following business day. Monthly statements of accounting will be emailed at the time of disbursement.
Who do I contact for questions? A Jacob Grant team leader would like to schedule a phone call with you at your convenience. Jake Durtschi or Paige Van Wagoner will reach out to you to schedule that appointment with you.
What about accounting? The Jacob Grant accounting team led by Heidi Ramirez, will be doing a full financial audit of your account. Appfolio will continue to be used to provide all of your accounting. They will review the specifics at the time of the phone call you have scheduled with a team leader.
Will staffing change? At this time there will be no change in staffing. Andrea and Mercedes plan to join the Jacob Grant Team to continue to meet the needs of your properties.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you over the years. It’s been my pleasure to work with you on your properties and your investments! I have full confidence that the Jacob Grant Team will provide you with the highest quality of service to your investment portfolio.
Jake Durtschi, of Jacob Grant Property Management in Idaho Falls, said his company was approached by Jaques on Monday, June 25, for help on servicing Rentmaster’s properties.
Durtschi said that he had never met or even heard of Ron Jaques until the Friday before, when Jaques texted him about wanting to meet up.
“He told me he has had some severe health problems through strokes and that he couldn’t service his properties anymore,” he said. “He came to my office on Monday morning and met him for the first time. I’ve known him for less than a week.”
Jaques even showed Durtschi what looked like a brain scan document, which looking back, Durtschi said could have come from the internet. Even Handy said that Jaques had tried to fake having strokes during the court case against her.
The conversation resulted in Durtschi saying he would help service Rentmaster’s accounts, but no money was exchanged.
“We have no relationship with him (Jaques),” Durtschi said. “Ron told his employees that we bought them out. We did not. We did not buy anyone out. There was no money exchanged. There was no contract written. He invited us to come help out his owners. We don’t want any association with them, but we understand that by agreeing to help, we’ve become associated. But we literally don’t have anything to do with them.”
Just a day after Durtschi met with Jaques, he got a call from an attorney in Boise who was dealing with Jaques’ Meridian-based property management company. Only then did Durtschi realize the mess he had waded into.
“Owners have had several thousand dollars stolen from them. We’re trying to do the accounting and get that information to the attorney,” he said. “When we sent the letter from Ron announcing him not being able to service the properties, we had owners contact us saying they haven’t received rent for June. It’s a mess, and our goal is to get that info to the attorney so if possible they can recover their funds.”
Durtschi said that he’s making sure that everyone’s accounts are being taken care of according to priority. He said he is going through all of Rentmaster’s unpaid bills so that no services, such as water and sewer utilities, get shut off.
“We’re going to do everything to do everything we can to help,” he said. “We’re being transparent. We’re working with the Rexburg Police as well. We’re wading through an incredible amount of information and people.”
But where is Jaques? According to the Idaho Statesman, Jaques was due in a Boise court on Wednesday, June 27. He didn’t show up. Durtschi was the last person to have contact with him before he disappeared.
Rentmaster tenants should continue to pay their rent, Durtschi said, and he will make sure those whose owners are working with Jacob Grant will have their money. Online payment services have been disabled due to Durtschi not being able to access Jaques’ banking accounts. Instead, tenants can drop a check off at the Rexburg Rentmaster location signed out to “Jacob Grant Property Management.”
Durtschi also said he’s working on getting a Rexburg location opened up to help service all of Rentmaster’s accounts.
The Standard Journal is working with the Idaho Press in Nampa to learn more about Jaques’ handling of his companies, and will have more on this story as it develops.