N.C. AG files lawsuit against Chapel Hill landlord

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 2, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced a lawsuit Thursday against a Chapel Hill landlord who allegedly failed to maintain and return security deposits.

Ware Investments LCC and James Kelly, the company's managing officer, rent residential properties to university students in Durham and Chapel Hill. After collecting security deposits from tenants, Kelly allegedly placed the deposits in personal or regular business accounts instead of placing them into a separate trust, as is required by state law. At the end of tenants' leases, Kelly allegedly withheld security deposits and did not provide a written record of any charges for which the deposits were used.

"Some landlords need to be taught a lesson," Cooper said. "The law on security deposits is clear and they must follow it."

The lawsuit seeks to stop the defendants from engaging in deceptive practices and to win money back for student renters. Cooper requests that the court require Kelly and his company to repay security deposits to tenants and pay civil penalties to the state.

Cooper's office also put together a collection of tips for first-time renters and sent the document to all college and university student newspapers in North Carolina.

"Across the state, many college students will soon be moving into apartments for the new school year, and we want first-time renters to know their rights so they can avoid getting ripped off," Cooper said.

Kelly and Ware Investments were sued repeatedly by tenants in Orange County courts for similar matters and plaintiffs were successful in such cases.

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