Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a settlement with two landlords, culminating a lawsuit alleging that the Richmond-based landlords defrauded tenants by offering services for low-income tenants without providing the services. Jump Start U2, Inc, and Vasilios Education Center, Inc., and their operator Carl Vaughan must pay $10,000 in restitution to consumers who paid for services that weren’t provided; they’re also not allowed to collect on over 175 judgements against tenants, worth more than $200,000 in total.
“We will not tolerate landlords who take advantage of Virginians seeking affordable housing by violating and ignoring laws designed to protect Virginia consumers. My office is dedicated to protecting vulnerable Virginians from such abusive practices, and we will continue to hold bad actors accountable,” Miyares said in a press release Tuesday.
The Attorney General of Virginia Office initiated the lawsuit a year ago under then-Attorney General Mark Herring, according to an August 18, 2021 press release. The complaint alleged that Vaughn sought low-income tenants by touting services including credit counseling, education, and assistance obtaining employment. Additionally, the complaint alleged that tenants were evicted based on inaccurate records, on terms that violate the law. Furthermore, the complaint alleged that housing was often in very poor condition, but because Vaughan’s companies sublet the property from the actual owners, tenants often didn’t know who was responsible for maintenance.
“Tenants, some of whom were formerly homeless, were told that they could ‘turn homelessness into homeownership in less than three years through these programs and paid a premium to receive services promised by Vaughan and his companies,” Herring’s release said.
The settlement took effect August 17 this year. Miyares’ office said in addition to the restitution and the ban on collecting in some judgements against tenants, the landlords are banned from misrepresenting their programs and charging fees for programs that are not provided. Further, they are required to return security deposits in accordance with law, and must disclose to tenants that the leases are subleases while providing contacts for the primary landlord.
Tenants who may qualify for the restitution should contact the office of the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Section: (800) 552-9963 or [email protected].
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