MORGANTOWN — A landlord that caters college students at West Virginia University and other schools across the state has been accused of illegally charging tenants fees, according to the state Attorney General's office.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit Jan. 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court claiming Metro Property Management, the state’s largest residential landlord, charged its tenants a non-refundable fee, in addition to the standard damage deposit, to prepare the residence for its next tenant.
The lawsuit contends a landlord must deliver a suitable living environment and any attempt to pass that obligation to the tenant violates the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
“Landlords cannot willfully violate state law to boost their own profits,” Morrisey said in a statement. “The vast majority of landlords comply with state law, however this lawsuit demonstrates my commitment to protect consumers and hold those other landlords accountable.”
The lawsuit, which was filed against Metro's parent corporation Biafora’s Incorporated, also targets Metro’s alleged convenience and processing fees of $5 to $30, returned check and late fees of $50, an abandonment fee of $200, a hourly fee of $100 for those vacating past deadline and $25 for every item left behind.
The Attorney General seeks a court order demanding Metro Property refund all affected consumers, return all money collected from the unlawful fees and zero balance any outstanding related accounts, while notifying credit bureaus to delete information about those accounts from the consumers’ credit record.
The lawsuit also seeks a $5,000 civil penalty for each violation of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
Morrisey's complaint says the AG's office has received at least 28 complaints about Metro Property since 2004. It says the office began an investigation in September 2015.
The complaint was signed by Senior Assistant AG Norman Googel and Assistant AG Tanya L. Godfrey. The case has been assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 17-C-50