Court Finds Landlords Can’t Take Illegal Surcharges From Security Deposits
HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the Office of Attorney General won a motion in ongoing litigation against Associated Realty Property Management (ARPM), a student-housing company in State College, Pa.
“The last thing students and their families need to worry about during the school year is an unexplained, illegal deduction from a security deposit at the end of a lease,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “We’re putting landlords on notice: if you charge these illegal fees, you’ll have to face us in court.”
The lawsuit filed by the Office asserted that ARPM added illegal administrative fees that served as a surcharge at the end of a lease term. These charges, in addition to other deductions for cleaning fees and fines unrelated to actual damages to the apartments were taken from the security deposit. The Office additionally claimed in its lawsuit that ARPM violated both Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Law and the Landlord and Tenant Act by adding these illegal surcharges.
The motion filed by ARPM requested that the court issue judgment on two issues in the case, which would prevent the Office of Attorney General from moving forward with civil penalties against the company and would declare these surcharges legal, or the Landlord and Tenant Act unconstitutional and vague. The court denied the motion, determining that the Attorney General can move forward with its case for civil penalties and that the Landlord and Tenant Act is clear as to what can be deducted from the security deposit.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Brandon Bingle. The opinion and order were issued by the Honorable Judge Katherine Oliver of the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.
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