KCBD Investigates: Lubbock families warn of “nightmare” landlord

KCBD Newschannel 11 at 10 "nightmare" landlord 10/09/2019

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - There are over 60 pages of criminal complaints dating back to early 2017, all under the same landlord.

These documents reveal a pattern of disturbing claims including harassment, destruction of property, and assault. Many of the tenants also claim they paid hundreds of dollars upfront, in rent-to-own arrangements, only to be evicted just a few months later. Now, three of these families have come forward to share their experience of broken dreams in hopes to save others from what they call a landlord nightmare.

Jerry lopez
Jerry lopez (Source: Lubbock County Sheriff's Office)

“We don’t feel safe. I feel like my family’s in danger,” said Savana Baquera.

Savana says the fear began in April. They rented out a three bedroom trailer from Jerry Lopez. Savana says she and her husband paid Lopez a deposit of almost $2200 with a promise that after four years of monthly rent, the trailer would be theirs, but it was just a promise. As time went on, the couple never got a written rent-to-own contract.

“After May, my gut feeling was telling me he's, you know, just messing with us,” said Savana.

Despite that gut feeling, the Baquera’s kept paying rent and waiting on that written agreement. Instead of a contract, they got trouble. “We started having plumbing issues around the second week of April. We had no water pressure, no water, or hot water.”

When Savana and Alex went to Lopez for help, not only did he refuse, they say his behavior began to change. “He was constantly throwing stuff in our yard and messing up my locks. I couldn’t get into my house twice,” said Savana.

Map of Lopez land
Map of Lopez land (Source: KCBD Graphic)

They decided to call the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office and file a criminal complaint. The KCBD Investigates obtained that report from September 3rd of this year, but we also we discovered the Baquera’s weren’t alone. We found more than a dozen complainants who filed reports against Lopez, most of them were his tenants. Some of those reports were filed by Lopez himself. The pages of reports from his tenants showed a similar pattern of behavior from Lopez.

“We filed two reports for harassment,” said John.

John was a tenant of Lopez. He asked us to conceal his identity so we will refer to him as “John”. He gave Lopez $1,400 to rent-to-own his trailer, but just like the Barquera family, John found himself waiting. “We never got a lease agreement.”

Once the large down payment was made, John said it seemed like Lopez wanted him and his family out. “He unhooked our AC. I got little ones. I got babies. Have you ever been in a trailer in the summer? it’s frickin’ hot.”

The KCBD Investigates team uncovered more. One report was filed in October of 2017 from Kelly Lewis, another ex-tenant of Lopez. Kelly says she paid $800 down and planned to pay rent for five years to own Lopez’s trailer.

"Then I started getting these little letters where he’s going to raise our rent,” said Kelly.

It’s a familiar pattern. “He shut off our electric and our water because he couldn’t get what he wanted,” she said.

This is when the accusations against Lopez turned criminal. Kelly said Lopez had been sexually harassing her for months. In the report, it says Kelly told officers Lopez “pinned her to the corner and kissed her without her permission” insisting she should sleep with him.

“I felt stupid. I felt ashamed,” said Kelly.

Lopez was arrested for harassment because this incident. A grand jury declined to indict and dismissed the case.

Kelly was evicted a few months later.

Now Kelly, John, and the Baqueras all have one message: beware.

“I’m not going to stop until everybody in Lubbock knows don’t rent from this man.” We reached out to Lopez for a comment, but got no response.

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