BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) — Homes Direct Inc. has agreed to
settle a case involving allegations surrounding its rental practices, including
its use of rental agreements with an option to purchase residential properties,
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has announced.
Homes Direct, which advertises on the Internet and promotes
its expertise in landlord laws, allegedly failed to comply with various
provisions of state law. It purportedly drafted residential leases that
contained illegal fees, required illegal security deposit provisions and
conducted other abusive practices. Additionally, many homes rented out by Homes
Direct were not habitable at all. Frosh’s office also charged the company with
violating the Maryland Lead Risk Reduction in Housing Law.
"All tenants in Maryland have the right to hot and cold
running water. All tenants in Maryland have the right to know their children are not
exposed to lead paint poisoning," Frosh said. "The Attorney General's Office will continue to ensure that tenants in our state have safe and sanitary
housing and are not subject to unfair and illegal lease terms."
Homes Direct agreed to provide tenants with new leases that
comply with state law. The settlement includes certain restrictions on how
Homes Direct can market and promote its business.