Colorado tenant Nichole Collins has initiated a class action lawsuit against Greystar, a national apartment management company. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 9, accuses Greystar of imposing unlawful and concealed “junk fees” that inflate the cost of living for tenants, further exacerbating the state’s housing affordability crisis.
Represented by Justice for the People Legal Center and Towards Justice, the lawsuit alleges that Greystar, which boasts over $45 billion in assets, is guilty of embedding its lease agreements with deceptive fees. These fees, which are not disclosed in the advertised rent, include charges for “pest control,” “valet trash,” and “billing” — all of which are obligatory for tenants to pay if they wish to retain their housing.
The legal complaint further argues that Greystar’s fees offer no real additional services or benefits to tenants and are merely a means to pad the company’s profits. This case draws attention at a time when “junk fees” are under increased scrutiny by consumer protection agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“When I leased with Greystar, I thought my monthly rent would be one amount, but it turned out to be much higher because of Greystar’s fees that didn’t cover any services beyond the most basic they are required to provide as a landlord,” stated Collins in a news release. “I’m filing this suit on behalf of working Coloradans, like myself, who have had no choice but to spend their hard-earned dollars on these surprise fees.”
Lead attorney Jason Legg from Justice for the People Legal Center elaborates on Collins’s experience, highlighting that the fees were not disclosed upfront during the lease renewal process, likening it to a bait-and-switch that new tenants face. “Greystar acquired management of Nichole’s apartment complex after she’d already moved in,” he said. “Greystar sent her a lease renewal offer that only disclosed the headline rent, she accepted the offer, then learned of the mandatory fees later when they sent their form lease – analogous to the experience of new tenants provided a “welcome home letter” that doesn’t include the fees and then, after they’re locked in, the form lease that imposes them.”
David Seligman, Executive Director of Towards Justice, emphasized the broader significance of the case. “Affordable housing is a key element of economic equity and worker power,” he said. “These junk fees are driving up the cost of living for Coloradans and are making housing more expensive; in many cases, the sole goal is to increase profits for landlords.”
The legal challenge against Greystar confronts the issue of rising housing costs, which Colorado legislators hope to address during this year’s legislative session.
Rep. Javier Mabrey (D-Denver) discussed legislation to address Colorado’s housing crisis during a Jan. 10 event hosted by New Era Colorado. “People are paying $2,600 a month to live in roach-infested apartments in Thornton and Northglenn, right after they got priced out of the North Side,” he said. “We still can’t get policies like rent stabilization through. We’re not doing enough. We are not doing enough to fight for young people and to keep our communities in their homes, so this year, what are we going to do about it? This year, I’m proud to be on two big pieces of legislation.”
Mabrey is co-sponsoring HB24-1007, a bill to prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing residential occupancy limits. Mabrey also plans to reintroduce legislation to prohibit landlords from evicting their residential tenants or declining to renew their lease without just cause.
“The next piece of legislation that I’m working on — and everybody knows what I’m going to say — we’re bringing a bill that simply says a landlord should have a reason if they are going to remove you from your home,” said Mabrey. “They should have a reason if they’re going to remove you from your home. We’re not bringing back rent stabilization this year, even though I think we should.”
Last year’s for cause eviction bill, HB23-1171, passed the house but failed in the Senate. New Jersey, California, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington have all passed similar eviction legislation.