AG Gansler's Consumer Protection Division Settles Charges of Fabricated Damage Claims Against Prince George's Co. Apartment Owner
Ager Road Station Apartments in Hyattsville to return $500K to former tenants
Baltimore, MD (March 21, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with Ager Road Station, LLP, which owns the Ager Road Station Apartments in Hyattsville, and its property manager, Robert Thacker. The agreement, which is contained in a Final Order, resolves the Division's charges that Ager Road Station, LLP ("Ager Road") and Mr. Thacker improperly deducted amounts from security deposits and attempted to collect, as well as collected payments from tenants that were not owed (e.g., false lost rent or damage claims).
"This Final Order demonstrates that landlords and property managers cannot take advantage of their tenants without facing consequences," said Attorney General Gansler. "Tenants should always demand receipts when paying rent and other charges, and document the condition of their apartments when they move out."
Ager Road and Thacker also allegedly charged application fees as high as $1,000, which Ager Road refused to refund if the tenant declined to rent an offered apartment. Ager Road and Thacker were also charged with collecting excessive fees when tenants' checks were not honored by their banks. These practices were alleged to violate the Consumer Protection Act, as well as the Maryland Application Fee Law, Security Deposit Law, Consumer Debt Collection Act and the Dishonored Check Law.
According to the Statement of Charges, Ager Road and Thacker filed hundreds of lawsuits claiming lost rent and other damages that were supported by false evidence, including fabricated invoices. Ager Road and Thacker were also accused of deducting amounts from tenant security deposits for damages to apartments that either did not exist or constituted ordinary wear and tear (for which the tenant was not responsible), as well as for lost rent that was actually paid and various fees and costs that they had not actually incurred. Ager Road and Thacker have denied that they violated any laws. In order to resolve the Division's charges, Ager Road has agreed to pay a total of $500,000, which will be used to pay restitution to consumers harmed by Ager Road's practices, including tenants who did not receive their security deposits or against whom Ager Road has collected judgments. Ager Road also agreed to forgive all judgments that remain uncollected, which the Division estimates total more than $300,000. Finally, Ager Road agreed to pay the Division $25,000 for its costs. Mr. Thacker has agreed to pay the Division a $100,000 civil penalty.
Both Thacker and Ager Road agreed to injunctive relief that, among other things, prohibits them from deducting amounts from tenants' security deposits and collecting or attempting to collect amounts for damages unless the claimed damages can be documented and proven true at the time they are claimed. Ager Road and Thacker are also required to return any application fees or deposits they charge tenants that are not used for a credit check or otherwise expended to process the tenant's rental application.
For more information regarding the settlement, consumers may call the Consumer Protection hotline at (410) 528-8662 or toll free at (888) 743-0023.