Apartment leasing company lands in 'hot water' over surcharge

John O'Brien Jun. 7, 2007, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - A West Hartford apartment leasing and management company will pay $200,000 to settle with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who alleged the company imposed illegal heat and hot water surcharges.

Intertown Realty Company will pay at least $80,000 in refunds to more than 400 current and former tenants, it was announced Thursday.

Intertown will also pay $120,000 to the State to settle the suit, filed in April 2005. Blumenthal alleged the surcharges violated the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

"Heat and hot water were basic necessities -- promised by Intertown -- not optional amenities," Blumenthal said. "Intertown's actions were classic bait and switch. The company enticed renters with assurances of free heat and hot water, only to charge extra when winter arrived."

Blumenthal alleged the surcharges, which ranged from $20-$60 a month up to six times a year, were followed by threats of eviction when tenants complained.

"Full refunds now go to tenants bullied and badgered into paying these illegal surcharges, as well as a hefty forfeiture to the state. The message: Real estate rental companies must deliver what they promise or pay a price."

Tenants still in Intertown apartments will receive refunds in the form of rental credits.

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