MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - After text messages and voicemails went unanswered, Steve Brown started to get concerned about his property manager.
The air conditioning unit at his Horry County property had gone out and the repairman wasn’t getting paid.
Brown said he has $4,000 in a maintenance fund with Myrtle Beach Rental Connections to fix issues that arise for his renters.
“It’s 100 degrees up there so I had somebody go take care of that and you expect to have the money in the account to take care of it and it’s not there. It’s not a good feeling,” Brown explained.
He eventually tracked down an employee that told him the business’ owner, Ken Shimer, was in jail.
Shimer is listed as an inmate in a correctional facility in Kansas. He was sentenced to prison on April 18, 2019 for charges related to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
Brown said he was shocked when he heard the news.
“Ticked off, thinking that I felt duped,” Brown said. "You thought you knew somebody and this was going on and I had no idea.”
Shimer was initially arrested for the charges in 2015 by Junction City police. He isn’t expected to be released until December 2022.
Brown ended up paying $5,000 out of pocket for the air conditioning unit, but he said he still doesn’t know where the money in his maintenance fund is.
'I have no idea. I don’t know what to expect. At least I have my rent because I prepaid it, but what about the other folks?" Brown said. “There’s over 150 accounts. Who is monitoring that money? Where is that going?”
Brown said he doubts many other property owners and tenants even know what is happening.
A few of Shimer’s co-workers said his sentencing came as a surprise to them as well. The ones who are left are scrambling to figure out what to do with the more than 100 properties.
South Carolina revoked Shimer’s brokers license around a month after his sentencing. A different worker at Myrtle Beach Rental Connections was appointed as the temporary broker in-charge and was tasked with either finding a replacement for Shimer or winding down the company.
In the last week, a different property management company, Semper Fi, agreed to manage 127 of the properties.
“Right now, I have all the owner’s information, the contracts, all the tenants’ information and contracts but I have no security deposits at this time. I don’t even know how much is suppose to be in the account,” said Billy Rivera, Semper Fi’s owner’s representative and operation manager.
Myrtle Beach Rental Connection workers said they were not involved in the financial aspect of the company and are having trouble gaining access to the business’ bank accounts.
“They can’t get a hold of any money in any of the accounts and what I understand is they have five or six different accounts that there’s money in and they can’t even get the money," Rivera explained.
Rivera said he was told all the owners got paid last month and was shown the direct deposits, but he still is waiting to hear about how much money is in the security deposit fund.
WMBF obtained a copy of the company’s financial statement from April that showed its assets were in the hole by $160,000. The largest contributor to the debt was from the business’s security account, an account that generally holds renters’ security deposits.
On Wednesday, Rivera said an emptied account would be a “worst-case scenario.”
Rivera said he was shocked to hear the accounts were in the negative but he will continue on as the property manager.
“I’m not going to quit,” he said. “I’m not a quitter.”
Rivera said letters will be going out to owners and renters this week alerting them of the change in management.
“The owners have every right to know that the company they actually hired, Myrtle Beach Rental Connections, has been closed and the owner is in jail and everything has been transferred over,” he said.
The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation would not reveal if it is investigating Myrtle Beach Rental Connections for its financial management.
Brown hopes Shimer can be held accountable for his “mismanagement.”
“He’s a licensed real estate broker, there’s a code of ethics that you need to follow,” Brown said.
WMBF reached out to Shimer’s lawyer in Kansas who confirmed his charges but said he didn’t know anything about the rental company.
If you are an owner or renter, you can contact Semper Fi through email or phone by clicking here.