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Attorney General Brings Consumer Protection Action Against Southern California Property Management Firm
(LOS ANGELES) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced a court-approved settlement that will provide refunds to tenants who lost security deposits because of improper charges by R.W. Selby & Co., Inc., a Los Angeles-based property management firm with apartments in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties.
In the consumer protection case, Selby was accused of making unreasonable charges against the security deposits of departing tenants and other violations of California's landlord-tenant law. In many cases, tenants were automatically charged the entire amount of the security deposit regardless of the condition of the apartment. Selby also was accused of imposing improper charges for ordinary wear and tear, failure to timely provide tenants with itemized statements explaining security deposit deductions, and the improper insertion of lease provisions that made a portion of the security deposit non-refundable. The complaint also stated that the company failed to pay accrued interest on security deposits for rent-controlled units within the City of Los Angeles.
Under the settlement approved by the Los Angeles Superior Court, Selby will provide $450,000 for refunds to tenants who were found to have been charged unreasonable rates for repairs and cleaning costs. Selby under a court-issued injunction also is prohibited from charging a tenant for cleaning apartments that were left in a reasonably clean condition. The company is prohibited from charging for minor touch-ups like plaster repairs and fill-in of nail holes, charging for ordinary wear and tear, and making any charge that is in excess of prevailing marketplace prices. In agreeing to the settlement, Selby does not admit wrongdoing.
To implement the injunction, the Better Business Bureau of the Southland will be hired for one year by Selby to monitor apartment inspections and act as an arbitrator of disputes. Selby is further required to pay any outstanding small claims court judgments obtained by former tenants, and to pay accrued interest on rent-controlled units. The company also will pay $138,000 in civil penalties and legal costs.
Selby manages some 1600 units in 17 complexes in the cities of Marina Del Rey, West Los Angeles, Brentwood, Whittier, Long Beach and Dana Point. Selby also has managed a unit in Corona.