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State sues Chapel Hill landlord over security deposits

Posted August 1, 2013

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— A Chapel Hill landlord who failed to maintain and return renters' security deposits must repay them, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Thursday.

Cooper filed suit against Ware Investments LCC and its managing officer, James Ware Kelly, last week, seeking to stop what he called deceptive practices and win money back for student renters.

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

Kelly and his company rent apartments and houses to university students in Chapel Hill and Durham. Cooper's lawsuit alleges that security deposits are deposited in personal or regular business accounts instead of being placed into a separate trust account, as required by law.

When tenants’ leases end, Ware Investments and Kelly withhold security deposits and don't provide a written record of any charges for which the deposits have been used, according to the lawsuit.

Tenants in Orange County have filed numerous suits in the past against Kelly and Ware Investments over security deposits, Cooper said.

“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,” he said.

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  • whatelseisnew Aug 1, 2013

    "Oh, you mean by keeping their money he can't create jobs for everyone? Isn't that what the government says. Give the rich business people all the money and they'll create jobs for all of us poor unqualified people..........yea right."

    Let me know when a POOR person gives you a good paying job with good benefits. Keep in mind that poor person is getting many thousands of dollars from these evil rich people. I am amazed that people understand pretty much NOTHING about the economy and how it functions. But hey since you apparently think all JOBS come from Government, send them some more money.

  • rocket Aug 1, 2013

    "How dare the GOVERNMENT come in and try to stop a businessman from making money!! That's what's wrong with America today! If we just let rich people do whatever they want, everything will be OK"

    Believing in limited government is not the same as believing in anarchy. I think almost everyone can agree that theft is wrong.

  • common tater Aug 1, 2013

    I've been on the losing end of the deposit game...hope they make an example of these thieves.

  • snshine62d Aug 1, 2013

    "How dare the GOVERNMENT come in and try to stop a businessman from making money!! That's what's wrong with America today! If we just let rich people do whatever they want, everything will be OK."

    Oh, you mean by keeping their money he can't create jobs for everyone? Isn't that what the government says. Give the rich business people all the money and they'll create jobs for all of us poor unqualified people..........yea right.

  • Half Red Half Blue Aug 1, 2013

    "How dare the GOVERNMENT come in and try to stop a businessman from making money!! That's what's wrong with America today! If we just let rich people do whatever they want, everything will be OK."

    Absolutely right! It is my right to take away every penny a poor person has to pay for my golf and fishing trips.

  • Tax Man Aug 1, 2013

    About time. Plus should charge this guy with taking property by false pretenses and put him in prison for a few years.

  • foodstamptrader Aug 1, 2013

    "When tenants’ leases end, Ware Investments and Kelly withhold security deposits and don't provide a written record of any charges for which the deposits have been used, according to the lawsuit."

    This can be a huge scam, and a lot of landlords try to get away with this, especially with students who often don't complain.

    As a landlord in CH, I am glad to see action being taken against this abusive operator. They have long been know as a shady outfit, its amazing they area able to keep tenants.

  • mfbpd33 Aug 1, 2013

    How dare the GOVERNMENT come in and try to stop a businessman from making money!! That's what's wrong with America today! If we just let rich people do whatever they want, everything will be OK.