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For Immediate Release
January 26, 2007

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Settles with Property Management Company
Associated Estates Realty Corporation Agrees to Stop Charging Certain Fees

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with an Ohio-based property Management Company that owns and manages apartment complexes in Maryland. The Division alleged that the company, Associated Estates Realty Corporation, 1 AEC Parkway, Richmond Heights, OH 44143 ("AERC"), violated the Maryland landlord/tenant statute by charging consumers improper cleaning fees and by improperly deducting fees from tenants’ security deposits if they moved out of their apartments before the expiration of their leases. The Division also alleged AERC violated the statute by charging prospective tenants applications fees that were higher then the fees permitted by the statute and by using rental applications that did not include statutory mandated disclosures explaining the prospective tenant’s rights and liabilities if they sign the application. AERC denied that it had violated the law, but agreed to change its practices and to pay restitution to tenants.

Under the settlement, AERC agreed to stop requiring tenants who terminated their leases early to pay termination fees and to stop deducting termination fees from tenants’ security deposits. AERC also agreed to stop charging tenants cleaning fees, application fees that exceed $25 or its actual costs processing the applications, and to fully disclose tenants’ rights in its lease applications. AERC has agreed to pay restitution to consumers equal to the amounts in excess of $25 that it charged consumers in connection with their applications to lease that were not previously refunded to the consumer or credited to the consumer as either a security deposit or rent. AERC also agreed to pay restitution equal to the termination fees it deducted from consumers’ security deposits, as well as the cleaning fees it charged consumers. Finally, AERC agreed to pay the Division $30,000 for its investigation costs and a $75,000 civil penalty.

“The fees property managers charge their tenants must comply with Maryland law,” said Attorney General Gansler. “I am pleased that consumers will be receiving refunds and that this property manager has agreed to change its practices.”

The settlement concerns AERC’s practices at the following four apartment complexes:

Sheffield Forest, 3525 Sheffield Manor Terrace, Silver Spring, MD 20904-7214;
Hampton Point, 3340 Hampton Point Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20904-4839;
Annen Woods, 1 Harness Court, Apartment T4, Pikesville, MD 21208-6711; and
Reflections, 12020 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044-2778.

Consumers eligible for restitution under the settlement will be contacted by the Consumer Protection Division.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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