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$200,000 in illegal housing debt canceled for dozens of SUNY Buffalo State College students

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Posted at 3:24 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 15:24:45-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the cancellation of $200,000 in illegal housing debt for dozens of SUNY Buffalo State College students. Another $65,000 was recouped in restitution for hundreds more students.

This is the result of an investigation by the attorney general's office that found Monarch 716 "coaxed" students into signing leases and then demanded rent while denying access to the apartments. According to the AG's office, Monarch 716 is a private, off-campus student housing provider owned by 100 Forest Ave LLC and managed by XFD Real Estate Partners that primarily markets to Buffalo State students.

The AG's office began the investigation in September 2020 and found the following:

  • Company routinely collected interested students’ information and persuaded them into signing leases even though they did not first determine if they met Monarch’s qualifications (and often later determined that they did not qualify).
  • Denied students access to housing.
  • Claimed students owed thousands in rent and would then often refer students to debt collectors.
  • Told students they could get out of their lease if they found another student to take it over, but then unlawfully charged a $300 “delegation” fee.
  • Allowed students to prepay rent in advance if they believed they did not meet certain qualification criteria, a violation of state rent laws.
  • International students were also allowed to prepay rent, sometimes several months’ worth or the entire term of the rental agreement.
  • Charged certain students excessive late fees for each month of rent that was not paid in a timely manner and posted red notices on their doors.

According to the AG, an agreement made Wednesday cancels $200,000 in illegal debt for dozens of students and recovers $65,958.45 in restitution for hundreds more. A $50,000 civil penalty was also imposed on Monarch.

Preying on students with illegal housing schemes is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Monarch 716 engaged in serious predatory behavior that violated tenants’ rights and made students, who were just starting out their lives, feel threatened. Today’s agreement will help students impacted by Monarch 716 get their lives back in order without having thousands of dollars of debt looming over their heads. My office is committed to standing up to predatory landlords and protecting students.
- Attorney General James
I want to thank Attorney General James and her office for holding Monarch 716 accountable and cancelling the thousands of dollars in debt the company tried to illegally saddle me with. Monarch 716 deceived me and so many others while threatening to send us to debt collectors and ruining our credit. After viewing a Monarch 716 apartment, the company claimed I owed thousands of dollars without ever doing its due diligence to see if I even qualified for the apartment. I never lived in a Monarch 716 apartment for even a day, yet was told I needed to pay thousands. I’m glad that this company will be blocked from harming another student because of the attorney general’s work.
- Maria Reid, an impacted SUNY Buffalo State College student