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Attorney General Stein’s March Column: Housing Bad Actors Are No Joke, and I am Not Playing Around

Attorney General Josh Stein
March 2024

 North Carolina is a beautiful state. People want to live and raise a family here. That kind of growth can constrain housing options for folks. North Carolinians are dealing with higher rent rates, higher interest and complex mortgages, or bad actors trying to take advantage of homeowners. This month, I announced some new legal actions to address these issues and protect North Carolinians.

I will not hesitate to hold companies accountable for wasting North Carolinians’ time and money. That is why I am suing Canary General Contracting and Design for defrauding homeowners in Charlotte. So far, our Consumer Protection Division has received 15 complaints about the business and North Carolinians have reported more than $250,000 in financial losses. We allege that the company failed to start or finish projects and did shoddy work that was unsafe and failed code. The court recently issued an injunction keeping the business from operating while the lawsuit continues.

To keep a dishonest business from taking advantage of you, always make sure to do your research about a company before you do business with it. You can check with my office’s Consumer Protection Division or the Better Business Bureau to learn if the business has any complaints filed against it. Also, make sure to get written estimates from at least three companies so you can compare. Once you make your decision, always insist on a written contract and never pay for work before it is completed.

Homeowners aren’t alone in feeling the squeeze. Renters are concerned about rising costs and availability. Some price increases may be due to heightened demand. But I am concerned about certain companies conspiring to fix prices. That is why I launched an investigation into RealPage, a real estate software company. I’m looking into whether RealPage may be breaking the law by working with property managers to set prices and keep rents high.

If you are a renter, know that you have rights. Landlords are required to provide their tenants with a fit premises. If you discover that something needs to be fixed, ask to have it repaired. Let your landlord know about the problem immediately over the telephone or in person, but follow up with a written request and keep a copy of it for yourself. If the landlord refuses to make repairs or remedy the condition in a reasonable period of time, you may file a complaint with your local authorities, such as a code enforcement agency or fire and safety inspector.

Finding the right home to rent or buy is already difficult and stressful – scammers and bad actors shouldn’t make it harder. If you have any questions or think you or someone you know has been the victim of a housing scam, call us at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or online at