Young mom out $680 and nowhere to live

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Toni Merriweather, 19, and her 2-year-old daughter are homeless. She said she's been bouncing from place to place, staying with relatives.

In September, Merriweather says she paid Steve Benner $680 to rent a studio apartment on the corner of Burton and Eastern in southeast Grand Rapids. The day she went to move in, Merriweather said the front door was locked.

She said Benner told her the bank took over the building. Through a court order, another company had been given authority over it. FOX 17 learned the property may need to be condemned due to disrepair.

Merriweather's mother, Edna, reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers for help.

They're hoping Benner does the right thing and give the 19-year-old mom her money back.

Watch the video for Toni's story and hear what one of Benner's employees had to say.

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7 comments

  • Previous Tenant of Benner

    When is this guy going to face any legal action? He is a scam artist and has scammed many people, including myself and my family. We rented a house from him and he left my wife and I with our 4 kids without heat in the middle of winter, because he didn’t want to fix the furnace!!! There needs to be a class action lawsuit against Benner and his business!!! It needs to be shutdown!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Outraged

      I’d definitely contact FOX-17 if I were you-the more stories they do on this dirtbag, the better, to prevent future victims from falling into his scams

      • Previous Tenant of Benner

        I contacted Fox news, when this happened to me and my family. They came out to my house, but it never made the news. Because they contacted Steve, after I had them at my house and he fed them a line of bs, like he does with everyone. He is a scam artist and knows how to work the system! Nothing ever happens to this D-bag either!!

  • Former Business Tenant of Benner

    I seriously don’t know how Benner stays in business, or what banks he finds to finance his multiple schemes. Almost everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. Fox News, PLEASE help put this man out of business once and for all!

  • Greg

    Michigan security deposit laws are very clear he must refund the money (security deposit) within 30 days or he owes double,
    but she must give a address to send it to

  • Victim

    Steve Benner is far from being a good person. He has left nothing but victims in his wake. His children are no exception. Are we living in North Korea?

  • Sarah Benner

    I grew up in Grand Rapid, Michigan as this is a home to me, as its a home to many of you. Business is hard and we understand that. I apologize if Steven Benner wronged you in any way. We deal with a lot of small business like yourself as well as corporate Tenants. Alot of times ive seen from experience a Tenant with little to no money comes in and trys to open a business, steve wants to try to help them and encourages them to be theyre best, although that small business owner doesnt see it that way they think he just takes the money for himself and blames him for their failure, instead he works with Tenants Directly and understands business is hard. Steve Benner started his business from nothing he had no money, no advantage, just hard sweat and work to get where hes at. He believes in people and gives them an opportunity, what you do with that opportunity and how you proceed is on yourselfs. We have alot of Longterm Tenants who are like family to us, and we do care listening to your comments and opinion and what you say hurts. We try our best to do whats right but there is always a story behind the story most do not see. I want to continue to keep Grand Rapids, MI in the tradition and manor in which i believe is wholesome and ideal for families. This is my home, and we feel your struggles, as we are struggling, the main reason we are in this position is because at some point you didnt pay your rent, and because you didnt pay your rent, we could not pay our mortgage. You won if you were trying to hurt us, however if you think these corporate companies will be anymore personal and considerate then we were, you are wrong. The Corporate Industry will take over and they dont care about Mom and Pop businesses, they wont give chances, the politics will take over and the end result will be the same if not worse. We are not perfect but we do believe in doing the right thing if we can help it. Im sure there will be mixed opinions as anything but all people want to see is the negative side, if i could tell you all of the positive things i saw my father Steven Benner do you would think these things no more.