Apartment owners, management company face fines and cease and desist orders in consumer fraud suit

The Delaware Department of Justice has filed suit against the owners and manager of two Newark-area apartment complexes, charging numerous violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.

Attorney General Matt Denn announced the civil complaint filed in New Castle County Superior Court against Metrodev Newark, owners of the Autumn Park Apartments on Winterhaven Drive, Water Polo IV, owners of the Hidden Creek Commons on Hobart Drive, and the Metropolitan Management Group, the organization hired as property manager for the two complexes.

Metropolitan’s corporate office was sent an Email message seeking comment on the allegations.

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According to the suit, tenants have reported numerous cases of heating and air-conditioning problems, non-working appliances, plumbing issues, window issues as well as a lack of response to maintenance calls. Both properties also had numerous county code violations.

Because advertising for the apartment complexes promotes amenities such as free heat and hot water, air conditioning, fully equipped kitchens, and 24-hour emergency repair, not providing the services constitutes a violation of Delaware consumer fraud laws.

The complaint contends the defendants repeatedly engaged in misrepresentations, false promises, or omissions, with each constituting an individual fraud violation.

In one case at Autumn Park, a tenant went for four days in January 2017 without heat or hot water. In a case at Hidden Creek, a tenant moved into an apartment that had outstanding county code violations.

“Our office has received dozens of complaints from tenants residing in these properties and DOJ’s Consumer Protection Unit believes the defendants are engaged in repetitive and ongoing business practices in renting and maintaining these properties that violate the Consumer Fraud Act,” said Attorney General Denn.

The State asks the Court for a cease and desist order for prohibiting violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, financial penalties of $10,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, as well as money needed to remedy the violations and investigative and court costs.

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