Attorney General James Cancels Over $ 200,000 In Illegal Housing Debt, Recovers $ 65,000 More For Buffalo State Students Cheated By Private Student Housing Provider

Monarch 716 was denied student accommodation and then demanded that they had to
Thousands of rents, often referring students to debt collectors

OAG investigation reveals Monarch 716 violated tenant rights laws,
Engaged in predatory behavior towards students

BUFFALO – New York Attorney General Letitia James today canceled more than $ 200,000 in illegal real estate debt and recovered an additional $ 65,000 in restitution for students at SUNY Buffalo State College as part of a deal with private off-campus student housing provider that has deceived hundreds of students since 2019 An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office (OAG) found that Monarch 716 routinely tricked students into signing leases, then demanded thousands dollars in rent while denying students access to these apartments.

“Tackling students with illegal housing programs is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General James. “Monarch 716 engaged in serious predatory behavior that violated tenants’ rights and made students, who were just starting their lives, feel threatened. Today’s deal will help students affected by Monarch 716 get their lives back on track without having thousands of dollars in debt hanging over their heads. My office is committed to standing up to predatory homeowners and protecting students.

Monarch 716, also known as Monarch, is a private provider of off-campus student accommodation, owned by 100 Forest Ave LLC and managed by XFD Real Estate Partners, serving primarily students at SUNY Buffalo State College. Attorney General James opened an investigation into Monarch in September 2020 which found the company routinely collected information about interested students, coaxed them into signing leases even though they did not first determine if they met Monarch’s qualifications (and often later determined they did not qualify), denied students access to housing and ultimately claimed that students owed thousands of dollars in rent. Monarch often referred students to debt collectors.

The OAG’s investigation also found that the private student housing provider was illegally charging students rent and excess fees. Repeatedly, Monarch told students they could terminate their lease if they found another student to take it over, but then illegally charged a “delegation” fee of $ 300. Additionally, the company sometimes allowed students to pay rent up front if they felt they didn’t meet certain qualifying criteria, a violation of state rent laws. International students were also allowed to pay rent in advance, sometimes for several months or for the duration of the rental agreement. Additionally, Monarch charged some students excessive late fees for each month of rent not paid on time and posted red notices on their doors.

Today’s deal cancels more than $ 200,000 in irregular debt for dozens of students, recovers $ 65,958.45 in restitution for hundreds more and imposes a civil fine of $ 50,000 on Monarch. Additionally, the deal prohibits Monarch from repeating any of its predatory practices in the future.

“I want to thank Attorney General James and his office for holding the Monarch 716 accountable and for writing off the thousands of dollars in debt that the company tried to illegally burden me with,” said Maria Reid, an affected student at SUNY Buffalo State College. “Monarch 716 deceived me and so many others by threatening to send us to debt collectors and ruin our credit. After visiting a Monarch 716 apartment, the company claimed I owed thousands of dollars without ever doing due diligence to see if I even qualified for the apartment. I never lived in a Monarch 716 apartment for even a day, but was told I have to pay thousands of dollars. I am happy that this company is prevented from harming another student because of the work of the attorney general. “

This case was handled by the Assistant Deputy Attorney General in charge of the Buffalo Regional Office, Christopher L. Boyd, with the assistance of Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis and Investigator Jennifer Terranova. The Buffalo regional office is headed by Deputy Attorney General in charge Michael Russo and is part of the regional affairs division. The Regional Affairs Division is headed by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and is overseen by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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