AG Gansler: Developer of Unbuilt Retirement Community for Veterans in Baltimore Co. Must Reimburse Deposits to Applicants
After project halted, only prospective tenants who asked, complained got refunds
Baltimore, MD (June 3, 2014) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has entered into a settlement with John Infantino and his companies, Ft. Howard Senior Housing Associates, LLC and Federal Development, LLC. The settlement resolves allegations that Infantino withheld deposits from prospective tenants after failing to obtain financing for construction of a residential retirement community for military veterans in southeast Baltimore County.
"The men and women who served their country deserve better than to have the promise of a rental agreement broken and their hard-earned money withheld," said Attorney General Gansler. "Veterans victimized by this developer will get their money back and Maryland consumers can take comfort knowing that their rights are being protected."
Infantino planned to build a retirement community for veterans and their spouses called Bayside at Fort Howard, located on property owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 9600 North Point Road, the site of the former Fort Howard VA Medical Center. Construction was scheduled to start in 2007 - rental units were offered for lease shortly thereafter -- and was to be completed by 2012.
In order to apply to lease a rental unit, veterans had to submit an application packet and pay a "holder fee" of $500 for a single applicant or $750 for a joint application. A second deposit of either $1,500 or $2,250 was later collected from tenants to secure their residency.
Infantino and his companies had difficulty obtaining regulatory approval and securing financing for the project, and in mid-2009, after the Department of Veterans Affairs withdrew its involvement, the development of Bayside at Fort Howard was halted. However, Infantino only refunded deposits to those consumers who requested it or to those who complained to regulators, which is in violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
Infantino and his companies were also in violation of the Maryland Application Fee Law, which requires landlords to include certain disclosures on rental applications and provides limitations on how much of the deposit a landlord can retain.
The settlement requires Infantino and his companies to pay restitution to all Bayside at Fort Howard applicants whose money has not yet been returned to them. They must also pay the Consumer Protection Division $2,500 for its costs investigating the matter and a $10,000 penalty, which may be reduced to $5,000 if all terms of the settlement are met.