Some apartment residents could get back an extra $100

Christina Stavale

Many residents of College Towers or Holly Park apartments could be paying $100 more than they need to be.

Carol Crimi, senior staff attorney of Student Legal Services, said Windsor Realty and Management has withheld part of renters’ security deposits since the 2004-2005 school year when it began managing the two apartment complexes.

“Under their security deposit clause, it states $100 of the security deposit is non-refundable and kept as a ‘prep fee,'” she said.

To receive your security deposit:

1. After vacating the apartment, give the landlord a written request for the security deposit with a return address. The form can be found on the Student Legal Services Web site.

2. Within 30 days, the landlord must send back the deposit or an itemized statement of what he or she is withholding. Legally, a landlord can withhold money for damage beyond ordinary wear and tear or not paying all necessary fees.

Source: Carol Crimi, senior staff attorney of Student Legal Services

According to a March 2006 court decision from the Portage County Municipal Court regarding the issue, the prep fee is supposed to be a charge to prepare the apartment prior to the tenant taking possession.

But the court found no preparation had actually been done.

“(It) appears to have no relationship to any actual activity, action, task, improvement or expense incurred by the landlord,” the decision reported. “The ‘prep fee’ . makes no indication if it is related to preparing the premises for a subsequent tenant, or related to preparation for the tenant signing the lease.”

The court decision says that Windsor Management representatives did not appear at the trial prompting the decision.

At Windsor’s request, the Stater on Tuesday submitted a list of questions by e-mail. No answer was received by the end of the business day yesterday.

According to the Ohio Landlord and Tenant Law, landlords are permitted to charge a security fee. But once the lease is up, tenants may file a written request to the landlord for the return of this security fee. Afterward, the landlord is not allowed to withhold any part of the security fee unless tenants have caused damage beyond ordinary wear and tear or have not paid all necessary fees.

When tenants receive the statement for the security deposit, it says the tenant deposited $100 less than they actually did.

Crimi said although this issue affects hundreds of Kent State students, only a small number have come to Student Legal Services concerning this matter. Those who have, have taken the case to court and won.

“If (the landlord) wrongfully withholds money, tenants can sue for twice that amount,” she said.

If any tenants have any questions regarding the issue, she said to contact Student Legal Services at (330) 672-9550 or visit the Web site at

Contact news correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected].