First of 2 deadlines pass for families being forced out of homes in south Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — Thursday was the first of two deadlines passed for dozens of families being forced out of their homes in south Charlotte.

Channel 9 has closely followed the situation all week. We have seen some families pack up all their belongings and leave their neighborhood one last time.

Renters first reached out to Channel 9 late last week saying they received a notice to vacate -- dated May 11 -- from the property owner River Investment Properties NC. The notice told everyone the had to be out by June 8. It also said the first five to leave by May 19 would get back their deposits, plus $500.

On Wednesday, Channel 9 learned the property owner sent those notices to vacate before his company was officially formed.

Anchor John Paul asked the property manager about this as we continue our investigation. They told Paul that our reporting is creating anxiety and confusion and to stay off their property, but tenants said they are now getting legal help.

“I don’t know a lot about the legal system. I’ve never had to do this before. I know what when the sheriff comes, that’s when it starts,” said resident Debbie Briscoe. “There is no plan right now. I’m looking, that’s my plan. Other than that, I don’t know.”

After Channel 9′s initial reports about the situation, attorneys reached out to Briscoe and offered to help. They told Paul that they were going line by line through the letter that Briscoe and her neighbors received.

“Once they put the notice on my door, the lawyer will step in for me and we’ll just go to court,” Briscoe said.

That county happen after June 8, according to the letter she received.

River Investment Properties emailed Channel 9 saying, “information that has been broadcasted has been inconsistent with the tenants lease, our notification letters and the law. This has created unnecessary anxiety and confusion with our tenants.”

Paul called the company Thursday for clarification and was told someone would call him back.

We know their business is owned by Blu South and that company is building townhomes just feet from the neighborhood.

People we spoke to believe their homes will be torn down to make way for more expensive townhomes.

“Six people have already left,” said. “[To] live with other people or hotels,”

One of the homes was already torn town, and another has a notice posted that it will go next, as neighbors scrambles for a new place to live.

The big shift

(Watch the video above for the latest on these residents and the affordable housing crisis)

“In some ways, we’re starting to see the single-family rental market look much more like the apartment market,” said Ely Portillo, the assistant director with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.

He’s been studying a trend for the last year.

“Historically, the single-family rental market has really been a mom-and-pop market dominated by small landlords, who live here and own one, or two, or a few properties,” Portillo said. “Now we’re seeing a big shift toward these large, Wall Street-backed companies.”

Mecklenburg County has been addressing the issue.

The proposed $2.1 billion budget released Thursday shows a line item for $500,000 to research the effects of corporate-owned real estate and its impact on residents and home values in the county.

“That’s the way to solve problems that are this big,” said County Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell, District 6.

Getting that data is a start.

“I would like to see if we are going to have a lot of rental homes,” she said. “How do we make them rent to own? What are some things we can do to encourage homeownership as opposed to folks just being shut out completely?”

(WATCH BELOW: New information on company forcing residents to vacate homes)