HARRISBURG – Attorney General Tom Corbett has announced a consumer protection agreement that will permanently prohibit a Dauphin County man from acting as a landlord or operating rental properties in Pennsylvania.
Corbett said the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) was reached with Cory Paul Johns, 16 East Market St., Elizabethville, as the result of numerous complaints received from tenants in residential and commercial properties owned and operated by Johns in Dauphin, Schuylkill and Perry counties. Tenants began contacting the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in August 2008, shortly after Johns posted notices informing renters that they would need to vacate the properties by September 15th.
“Pennsylvania’s Landlord Tenant Act establishes clear guidelines for the handling of leases and evictions, along with the rights of tenants and the obligations of landlords in these situations,” Corbett said. “In this case, eviction notices were sent to more than 50 tenants who were in the midst of valid lease agreements and had not broken the terms of their leases; a violation of the Landlord Tenant Act and the Consumer Protection Law.”
According to the settlement agreement, Johns also allegedly used contracts that violated Pennsylvania’s Plain Language Consumer Contract Act, which requires contracts to be written, organized and designed so that they are easy to read and understand.
Corbett said the AVC requires Johns to immediately and permanently forfeit his right to lease rental properties or act as a landlord in Pennsylvania, either acting individually or operating a business.
Corbett noted that the majority of rental units operated by Johns have been sold to new owners or voluntarily turned over to various banks. For the small number of properties still currently held by Johns, the agreement requires him to honor all lease terms, address all maintenance issues in a timely manner and continue all utilities that the landlord is responsible for, until the terms of the lease expire or until Johns is no longer the legal owner of the properties.
The consumer settlement also requires Johns to immediately return $4,110 in tenant security deposits. Johns has also agreed to pay additional consumer restitution for any valid claims submitted to the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection within 90 days.
Additionally, Corbett said the AVC also requires Johns to pay $5,000 in civil penalties, along with $30,000 in suspended civil penalties which will immediately be enforced if Johns violates any of the terms of this agreement or any of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Laws.
The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance was filed today in Commonwealth Court, in Harrisburg, by Deputy Attorney General Kathryn H. Silcox of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.