The trips to those big-box, all-in-one-place stores already have begun, with parents and their college juniors and seniors furnishing what for many will be their first apartments. But some months from now, those parents and students may be in a different sort of place, an office with legal diplomas on the walls.
They’ll be seeking the return of security deposits on those apartments, confiscated by landlords in some cases for legitimate reasons (students aren’t known, let’s face it, for fastidious ways) but in other cases without cause, sometimes because the property owners simply think the students will give up and forget about the deposits. Many do, no doubt.
But state Attorney General Roy Cooper did a valued day’s work in going after an Orange County landlord for failing to maintain and return security deposits to college student tenants. Cooper filed suit in July saying James Ware Kelly of Ware Investments didn’t put deposits in a trust account and withheld security deposits after leases ended with no written record of any charges.
For his part, Kelly says his prosecution is “selective” and that he made an honest mistake. No matter how this comes out, Cooper has done a good service is raising awareness for college students and their families. More and more students rent apartments, many thousands in North Carolina, and they’re entitled to the protections due under the law.
Landlords who fail to comply for any reason should take note and make sure they are in line with the rules. This is an important part of consumer protection, which should be no different for college students than it is for anyone else.