MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The state attorney general is warning there may be more tenants of a rental company accused of violating the West Virginia Credit Protection Act who haven’t come forward with complaints.
“I’m hopeful that through this complaint people begin to better understand the landlord rental laws in West Virginia,” said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey a day after filing suit in Kanawha County against Pennsylvania-based Copper Beech Townhomes.
Dating back to June 2012, Morrisey said tenants of the Monongalia County apartment complex were charged non-refundable fees separate from security deposits.
“People should look out for these add-on fees that are actually not covered by the normal contracts,” Morrisey said. “They can come up in a number of ways. It could be a redecoration fee. We’ve also seen collection fees and attorney’s fees and unconscionable fees for late payments.”
As many as 1,197 leases featuring those types of fees brought in $604,602.50 to the landlord, according to complaint.
“The landlord is required to provide fit and hospitable condition of the place. You can’t just add on these fees, because that’s duping consumers,” Morrisey said.
Ten complaints were taken to the attorney general’s office, and Morrisey said his office expects to hear from more tenants claiming to have been overcharged.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division can be reached at at 800-368-8808. Consumers can file reports online at www.wvago.gov.
Some tenants were charged fees up to $800 that reportedly violated state law, Morrisey said.
The complaint asks a judge to require Copper Beech Townhomes management to pay civil penalties, refund consumers’ money collected and close accounts of tenants the attorney general said were overcharged.