Last week in Ada County the former head of the militia group 3% of Idaho, Brandon Curtiss, pleaded guilty to grand theft for stealing $98,564 from clients of his Meridian property management company.
While Curtiss’ political activities are fascinating, the problems with his property management firm deserve further scrutiny. The issue of funds missing from Idaho property management companies is a too-frequent occurrence.
For instance, last year two Idaho property management companies, Paradigm Property Solutions LLC (based in Meridian) and RentMaster of Rexburg LLC, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Both were owned by Ron Jaques. Paradigm and Jaques had been sued by owners of 200 or so properties on claims of taking $1 million in rents and security deposits. A bankruptcy adversary proceeding was filed by one group of creditors who obtained a default judgment for $350,000.
Jaques is in the midst of his own bankruptcy. As of last weekend, 87 claimants have filed claims and most seem to be former property management clients asserting funds taken or missing.
Idaho is one of only six states that does not regulate property management. According to a 2017 report by the Institute for Real Estate Management all states regulate property managers except California, Idaho, Kansas (but not for residential property management), Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
That lack of regulation means that Idaho management companies do not have to keep security deposits in a separate trust account or otherwise segregate the rents collected. All too often, Idaho managers have a single account containing both and from which their own bills are paid. Even if there is no theft or fraud a money-losing business can spend down the security deposit and rents, leaving tenants and owners high and dry.
In 2013, Idaho convened a task force to look at some kind of regulatory structure. Most states require a real estate license for property management and specify that tenant and landlord funds be held in segregated accounts. There is required education, licensing requirements and oversight.
Former Gov. Butch Otter received recommendations to regulate property management. But, the effort was stymied by the sense the Legislature was unwilling to impose such regulation.
High profile cases like Brandon Curtiss’ may increase the pressure for some minimal regulation for Idaho property managers.
Column of the Week: The president’s supporters have been trying to defend ground that is indefensible. . . ,
At the outset, Republicans created an impossible standard for themselves. Taking their cues from President Donald Trump, they chose to defend the idea that his call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect” and that there was “no quid pro quo,” when the record simply wouldn’t support it. This was obvious enough about the call from the very beginning, and it became clear about the pressure campaign on the Ukrainians by the time the opening statement of acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s deposition was released.
. . .
The gravity of impeachment is getting the hearings lots of attention, but it ultimately could be an anchor around the entire effort. If Democrats were only trying to get to the bottom of the Ukraine controversy and exact a political price in the form of exposure and damaging revelations, they’d have a slam-dunk. Instead, they are trying to build a case for impeachment and removal — a very high bar requiring a national consensus to succeed — atop an episode that at the end of the day didn’t keep defense funding from Ukraine or result in any investigations or even statements about investigations.
This is firmer ground for Republicans to fight on, and they are beginning to retreat to it — after exhausting the alternatives.
- “Why Democrats Have Been Running Rings around Republicans on Impeachment,” Rich Lowry, editor of National Review