A Portland landlord is being accused of improperly keeping security deposits as part of a class action lawsuit, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported Wednesday.
Plaintiff Carl Davis, a formerly homeless veteran, is arguing in the suit that the security deposit he paid when he moved into the 24-unit Grant Street apartment complex was not given back to him or transferred to the property’s new owners when previous landlord Steve Fowler sold it recently.
Tenants of the Grant Street complex have been told they must move out by new owner AEG Holdings, which reportedly wants to renovate the buildings. Many of the tenants were lower income residents or clients of Shalom House, an organization that works to find housing for people dealing with mental illnesses. The mass displacement grabbed headlines in recent weeks.
Davis is the only one named in the class action lawsuit, but any tenant of Fowler’s over the last six years who has similar experiences is welcome to join, MPBN reported.
“In Portland there’s been this housing shortage and it’s getting harder and harder for tenants to find housing,” Portland attorney Andy Schmidt, who is representing the plaintiffs in the case, told MPBN. “And because of that tenants are somewhat desperate to hang on to the housing they have; and this means the power relationship between the landlords and the tenants is currently favoring the landlords even more than normal.”
The lawsuit is reportedly seeking damages equal to double the security deposit amounts for the tenants, as well as attorney’s fees and other compensation. Fowler told MPBN he has no comment on the lawsuit.