Virginia Beach, Va. - Emotionally drained, Courtney Gourgoulianis broke down on Monday.
She says earlier that morning, a sheriff's deputy came to evict her and her two-year-old daughter from their Virginia Beach home.
"He's like, 'You are the victim of this and I'm really sorry, but I have to execute," explains Gourgoulianis.
That's because, she says, she signed a one-year lease in early May to rent a property on Governors Way.
Days later though, she says, the house went into foreclosure and the Virginia Housing and Development Authority (VHDA) took over ownership.
She had no clue any of this happened until she was served with an eviction notice last Wednesday.
It gave her five days to get out.
“I pull it out and I read it and I was like, wow, are you kidding me like what is this? Who calls a leasing company when they know their house is getting foreclosed on? Then, what leasing company doesn't investigate a house that they're going to put out there?” Gourgoulianis said.
Gourgoulianis got in touch with the leasing company, IrentJN.com.
At first, she says, they were trying to help.
The woman she spoke with says they had no idea this was going on either.
The woman even made her aware of the federal law, “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act”, which gives tenants at least 90 days’ notice before evicting them.
But when Gourgoulianis called the lawyer representing VHDA, she says, she was told that federal law doesn't apply to her.
“She went completely dead silent and said that's not true, and I'm like, ma'am, please don't. I'm not stupid,” says Gourgoulianis.
She was told prior notices were sent out.
And, court documents show, an Unlawful Detainer was posted on her door in late May.
But, Gourgoulianis says, she never saw anything.
Apparently, the rental agency also told her the owner of the house is MIA, and supposedly living outside the country.
“I don't know how people like that sleep at night. They're human they know the situation they know that they're putting a mom and baby out and I didn't do anything wrong,” says Gourgoulianis.
So NewsChannel 3 took action and got results.
We got an outside attorney involved, Jason Messersmith, in Newport News.
Within a couple hours, he managed to come to an agreement with VHDA and their lawyer allowing Gourgoulianis to move back into the home and giving her through the end of September to find a new place to live.
“I'm like really relieved because now I can sleep in my own bed and take a shower and have my daughter sleep in her own bed,” says Gourgoulianis.
NewsChannel 3 also reached out to the leasing agency, who now says, they will refund Gourgoulianis for her security deposit, pet deposit and one month's rent totaling $2,750.
It’s money Gourgoulianis never thought she'd get back.
“I don't think any of this would have happened the way it did if you guys hadn't have helped me.”
The VHDA and the leasing company both released statements on the situation:
Messersmith says the best way to prevent putting yourself in a situation like this is to check the property records of a house you’re thinking about renting. You can do that by visiting your local Circuit Court.
But, if you do find yourself in a similar situation, Messersmith says pay attention to any mail sent by a lawyer.
He says prior notices were sent to the property on Governors Way, but they were addressed to the homeowner not Gourgoulianis.
When that happens, he says, take the unopened mail to your rental or leasing agency and make sure they take care of it.
Check the license status and complaint history of your rental agency: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/