Morrisey files lawsuit against Metro Properties Management

January 12, 2017 – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that Metro Property Management charged its tenants numerous fees in violation of state consumer protection laws.

Metro, the state’s largest residential landlord, primarily caters to students in Morgantown and other campus communities throughout the state.

Metro is accused of charging tenants a non-refundable fee, in addition to the standard damage deposit, to prepare the residence for its next tenant.

“Landlords are required to deliver on a suitable living environment for their tenants, and when you try to pass on that obligation to the tenants, you’re violating the consumer protection laws,” Morrisey said.

The complaint included a lease showing the property charged a tenant “Non-Refundable Reconditioning Fee of $215” in 2015 at Courtyard East on Willey Street.

“We have received a number of complaints about this practice and we take very seriously the enforcement of our consumer protection laws,” Morrisey said. “We want to stand up for (those victimized) and make sure the laws are being enforced.”

According to the civil complaint filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court against parent corporation Biafora’s Incorporated, the Attorney General has received at least 28 formal complaints from consumers between 2004 and the present and a review of the complaints prompted a formal investigation in September 2015.

The company was sued after failing to comply with a subpoena on Sept. 30, 2015, requesting information on its business practices.

In September 2015, Morrisey filed a lawsuit against another large student landlord, Copper Beech Town Homes for allegedly charging its residents an illegal and nonrefundable $800 “redecoration fee” to prepare apartments for incoming tenants starting in 2012. The suit claimed Copper Beech profited more than $600,000 from the unlawful fees. The suit is still pending.

Morrisey asks students who have been victimized by the fees at housing managed by Metro Property Management to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

The lawsuit 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 after the deadline and $25 for every item left behind.

The Attorney General, who announced the lawsuit at a press conference at the Morgantown court house, 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.

By John Raby, The Associated Press
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