In August 2021, a federal court judge in the Middle District of North Carolina approved a class action settlement against Bell Partners, LSREF3 Bravo LLC, and Hudson Capital Weston LLC. Attorneys Ed Maginnis and Karl S. Gwaltney represented the plaintiffs alongside Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman. Our attorneys obtained $4.75 million for tenants who alleged they paid unlawful eviction fees.
The class action lawsuit alleged Bell Partners and related entities violated the North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act and North Carolina Debt Collection Act by charging and collecting various fees in relation to filing evictions. In some cases, tenants received unlawful collection letters threatening to assess eviction fees or claiming that eviction fees are owed.
The North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act and North Carolina Debt Collection Act prohibit debt collectors, like Bell Partners, from threatening debtors, misrepresenting amounts due, or collecting illegal amounts.
Tenants at properties owned or managed by Bell Partners were either Collection Letter Class Members or Eviction Fee Class Members. Collection Letter Class Members were eligible to receive $25 per collection letter, with a maximum of $75. Eviction Fee Class Members received approximately $416 without having to file any type of claim.
Eligible class members included anyone who lived in properties managed by the Defendants during any portion of September 2014 to June 2018. Shortly before filing this lawsuit, landlord industry groups lobbied the North Carolina General Assembly to change the law. The updated law now allows property owners to charge and collect the various fees that were once illegal.