AG Henry Files Lawsuit Against Butler County Landlord Accused of Overcharging Consumers for Security Deposit, Repairs and Unfair Debt Collection Practices
Attorney General Michelle Henry announced her office filed a lawsuit against A.R. Building Company, Inc. over the Butler County-based landlord’s alleged unlawful leasing and debt collection practices. A.R. Building owns 20 apartment complexes in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit alleges that A.R. Building inflated certain security deposit charges by 50 percent, in violation of the Landlord and Tenant Act. Under the law, security deposit charges are limited to the “actual amount of damages” to the rental unit. The suit further alleges that, after consumers moved out, A.R. Building sent collection letters to consumers illegally threatening to take action if the consumer did not submit payment within 15 days.
According to the lawsuit, one consumer was billed $1,190.40 for carpet replacement, when the carpet installer invoice showed a charge of $799.60 for the replacement services.
The suit seeks civil penalties and restitution, including refunds of inflated security deposit charges, and prohibits the company from illegal leasing and debt collection practices.
“This landlord inflated security deposit charges, and then used illegal threats to pressure the consumers to promptly pay the company,” Attorney General Henry said. “Many renters face challenges due to their unequal bargaining power in the housing market. My office will continue to hold landlords accountable for violations of state consumer protection laws and will not stand by when consumers are harmed.”
The three-count complaint alleges the following violations of the Consumer Protection Law:
- Overcharging consumers for security deposit charges;
- Utilizing a lease form that misrepresents to consumers that the Defendant is authorized to take certain actions that are declared unlawful under the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act; and
- Engaging in unfair and deceptive debt collection practices by illegally threatening consumers to take certain actions and collecting security deposit charges not permitted by law.
The lawsuit was filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Amy L. Schulman of the Pittsburgh Regional Office.