- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia’s attorney general sued the state’s largest residential landlord on Thursday, alleging it charges tenants, mostly college students, various fees in violation of state consumer protection law.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Metro Property Management, renting mainly to college students in Morgantown and other campus communities, charges an improper non-refundable fee to prepare apartments for the next tenants. The lawsuit seeks court-ordered refunds of those fees and other fees charged renters for credit card processing, returned checks, abandonment, vacating late and for items left behind.

Metro Property Management said its practices mirror those of West Virginia University and that it’s confident the court will vindicate the company.

The suit seeks to block such fees and other allegedly illegal lease terms and get civil penalties of $5,000 for each violation of state law.

“Landlords cannot willfully violate state law to boost their own profits,” Morrisey said.

The attorney general’s office doesn’t know the scope of possible claims because the company hasn’t fully complied with its subpoena, spokesman Curtis Johnson said. They are urging current and former tenants who feel they were taken advantage of to contact the office’s Consumer Protection Division.

The lawsuit cited 28 consumer complaints received since 2009.

The company said it’s a homegrown business begun in 1991 that has raised the bar for rentals with clean, safe apartments.

“Our tenants are smart, intelligent people who had a wide variety of choices of housing,” the company said in a statement. “In each case, they considered our leases and chose to enjoy living at the facilities we manage.”

The company said it was being attacked for its success, while others “with very similar provisions in their leases” are ignored.

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