Attorney General announces settlement over WC apartment rentals

Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer today announced a legal settlement with two rental companies alleged to have illegally imposed fees on West Chester University students leasing luxury apartments. 

The settlement was reached with West Chester Commons, L.P., College Arms, L.P., and Walters Pennsylvania 1, Inc., the general partner of the other two companies. The settlement is the result of an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The settlement alleges the companies, which offered housing to students at the West Chester Commons and College Arms apartment complexes, violated the Landlord Tenant Act and the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. These alleged violations concerned the imposition of “turnover” and “operational” fees.

According to the settlement, during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 lease terms, the companies required each resident who entered into a lease agreement to pay a one-time “turnover fee” of $200. The companies discontinued collecting the “turnover fee” for the 2009-2010 leases and instead collected an “operational fee” through 2011-2012 leases. The Landlord Tenant Act does not allow the collection of fees other than a security deposit, according to the Attorney General’s allegations.

As part of the settlement, the companies will:

  • Pay restitution to all eligible consumers.
  • Allow for consumers that might have a claim against the companies, but are not known at the time of this settlement, a period to file claims with the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
  • Refrain from violating Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law and Landlord Tenant Act in the future.
  • Pay the Commonwealth $27,500 to pay for costs of investigation and future consumer protection efforts.

Eligible consumers are encouraged to file complaints prior to Feb. 3. Those wishing to file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection are encouraged to visit or call 1-800-441-2555.

In order to be eligible, consumers must have:

  • Had a valid lease with the companies between the lease years of 2008 through 2012.
  • Signed a lease that required a “turnover” or “operational” fee that was in fact paid by the consumer.
  • Prove to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth that they in fact paid a “turnover” or “operational” fee.

The settlement, reached in the form of an assurance of voluntary compliance, was filed in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Rolando Ramos-Cardona of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

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