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Rental company settles complaint

December 17, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A property management company with rental units in Washington County violated state laws by failing, in some cases, to return security deposits to prospective renters, the Maryland Attorney General's Office alleged Wednesday.

Raquel M. Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said consumers who didn't have their security deposits returned will be entitled to receive restitution from Maryland Management Inc., a rental company that manages Hunter Hill Apartments north of Hagerstown and properties in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford and Howard counties.

Guillory said she isn't certain how many people were affected.

"We're asking people to contact us," she said.

The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office said in a press release that Maryland Management Inc. violated the state's Security Deposit and Application Fee laws by collecting "security deposits from consumers who applied to rent apartments and if, following the acceptance of the consumers' applications, consumers did not sign an offered lease, Maryland Management kept all or a portion of the collected security deposits."

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The law states that a landlord is not permitted to keep a security deposit if the consumer makes the deposit and later decides not to rent, according to the release.

The Attorney General's Office and Maryland Management Inc. have reached a settlement in which the company has agreed to follow the law and "to not collect security deposits from consumers who apply to rent apartments unless the deposit is refunded to the consumers if they elect not to sign a lease," the press release said.

In addition, Maryland Management will pay restitution "equal to the amounts it has withheld from the security deposits" when that amount is determined, the release says.

Maryland Management also will pay the Consumer Protection Division $5,000 for the cost of the investigation.

Maryland Management and Hunter Hill Apartments did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

People who think they are eligible to receive restitution from Maryland Management Inc. may call the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Attorney General's Office at 410-576-6550.

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