How to Claim Settlement Funds from the Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit

The Equity Residential Move-in Fee Class Action has settled.  Now is the time to file a claim form. Only class members who submit timely claim forms will receive money.  The settlement website is here.

Class members who submit claim forms on time will receive:

  • 100% of any application fees, move-in fees and/or up-front pet fees that they paid, with 10% interest from February 23, 2012 through July 10, 2015 (for move-in fees) and from August 24, 2012 through July 10, 2015 (for application fees and up-front pet fees);

Yesterday, class members received an email about the settlement (pasted below). This is a real message from the class settlement administrator.

From: “Notice Administrator” <administrator@qgemail.com>
To: [          ]
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 2:00:28 PM
Subject: LEGAL NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION

This email is intended for: [          ]
Claim ID Number: [         ]

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
PERRY v. EQUITY RESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT, L.L.C.

You are receiving this e-mail because you are or were a tenant or prospective tenant at an Equity property in Massachusetts and paid an application fee, a move-in fee, and/or an up-front pet fee at or prior to the commencement of your tenancy, and you are a member of the Class in this case.

A court authorized this Notice.  This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.  You are not being sued.

A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit claiming that Equity Residential Management, L.L.C. and other defendants violated Massachusetts General Laws c. 186 § 15B by collecting application fees, move-in fees, community fees, up-front pet fees and monthly pet fees from residential tenants in Massachusetts. Tenants/prospective tenants who paid a community fee after the commencement of their tenancy and tenants/prospective tenants who paid a monthly pet fee are not eligible to receive any refunds of those fees under the terms of the settlement.  The lawsuit, Perry v. Equity Residential Management LLC, No. 12-10779-RWZ,is pending in the United States District Court of the District of Massachusetts.  The defendants deny that their actions violated the law, but have agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost and risk of further litigation.  The Class (which includes you) is comprised of members of the three subclasses described and defined below.

Who is in the Class?  The Class is composed of three subclasses, as follows:

Subclass 1: All current and former tenants or prospective tenants at residential apartment units operated and/or managed by Equity Residential Management in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who, at or prior to the commencement of their tenancy, paid an application fee, between February 19, 2009 and August 11, 2015. Tenants or prospective tenants shall be considered to have “paid” an application fee regardless of whether they paid that fee themselves or the fee was paid by a third party on their behalf.

Subclass 2: All current and former tenants or prospective tenants at residential apartment units operated and/or managed by Equity Residential Management in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who, at or prior to the commencement of their tenancy, paid an amenity fee or move-in fee, between May 1, 2008 and August 11, 2015. Tenants or prospective tenants shall be considered to have “paid” an amenity fee or move-in fee regardless of whether they paid that fee themselves or the fee was paid by a third party on their behalf.

Subclass 3:All current and former tenants or prospective tenants at residential apartment units operated and/or managed by Equity Residential Management in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who, at or prior to the commencement of their tenancy, paid an up-front pet fee, between February 19, 2009 and August 11, 2015. Tenants or prospective tenants shall be considered to have “paid” an up-front pet fee regardless of whether they paid that fee themselves or the fee was paid by a third party on their behalf.

What are the terms of the settlement?  Defendants have agreed to: 1) set up a settlement fund of $2,000,000 from which refunds will be paid to class members who submit valid and timely proofs of claim; 2) pay full refunds to class members, who submit valid and timely proofs of claim, of 100% of any application fees, move-in fees and/or up-front pet fees that they paid, with 10% interest from February 23, 2012 through July 10, 2015 (for move-in fees) and from August 24, 2012 through July 10, 2015 (for application fees and up-front pet fees); and 3) pay all costs of notice and administration of the settlement, including administration of the claims process.  There is no cap on the total amount of refunds to be paid to class members who file valid and timely claims, and the total amount of refunds to be paid is not limited by the amount of the $2 million fund.  Defendants will still pay 100% of all refund claims even if the total amount of refund claims exceeds the $2 million fund.  If multiple tenants or residents lived, or submitted applications for tenancy in the same apartment unit and jointly paid a move-in fee, application fee, or up-front pet fee, the refund of that fee will be divided by the number of tenants or residents in the apartment, and/or joint applicants for the apartment.

Incentive Awards to Plaintiffs.  Plaintiffs will apply to the Court for incentive awards in recognition of their time and effort in this litigation.  Plaintiffs will seek incentive awards of $7,500 each for plaintiffs Brian Perry, Kim Perry and Cheryl Miller, and incentive awards of $1,000 each for plaintiffs Mariana Vincelette, Richard Vincelette, Joseph Barnes, Colin Appleton, Rhett Kleinschmidt and Brittany Franco.  The incentive awards will not be paid out of the settlement fund, nor will they diminish in any way the total amount of refunds being made available to the Class in the Settlement.  The incentive awards are to be paid separate from, and in addition to, the settlement fund and any refund payments.

Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses.  The attorneys for the plaintiffs and the class, known as Class Counsel, will apply to the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses in the sum of $1,200,000.  The Court will consider Class Counsel’s application for fees and expenses at the same hearing at which it will consider the fairness of the settlement and whether or not to approve the settlement.  Any payment of attorneys’ fees will not be paid out of the settlement fund, nor will such fees diminish in any way the total amount of refunds being made available to the Class in the Settlement.  Any attorney fee payment is to be paid separate from, and in addition to, the settlement fund and any refund payments.

How to Get Benefits? In order to be eligible to receive a refund, you must submit a proof of claim.  You may obtain a custom claim form at www.EquityPropertyMASettlement.com or by contacting the claims administrator at Perry v. Equity Residential Management, c/o Dahl Administration, P.O. Box 3614, Minneapolis, MN 55403-0614 or EquityPropertyMA@DahlAdministration.com.  After Final Judicial Approval of the Settlement, the claims administrator will mail refunds to all class members who submit valid and timely proofs of claim. Proofs of claim may be submitted either online at www.EquityPropertyMASettlement.com >or by mail at Perry v. Equity Residential Management, c/o Dahl Administration, P.O. Box 3614, Minneapolis, MN 55403-0614.  Each and every adult person who lived in the apartment unit, or applied for tenancy in the apartment unit, must file a separate proof of claim.  If multiple tenants or residents lived in the same apartment and/or jointly applied to live there, such as a group of friends, a couple, a family, etc., each adult must file his or her own proof of claim. To be timely, a proof of claim must be submitted by January 29, 2016.

Your Other Options.  If you don’t wish to participate in the settlement, and you want to retain the right to sue the Defendants about the claims and legal issues in this case, you must exclude yourself by sending a letter to Defendants’ Counsel, Craig M. White, Baker Hostetler LLP, 191 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 3100, Chicago, IL 60606-1901 by December 22, 2015, with a copy to Class Counsel (whose addresses are at www.EquityPropertyMASettlement.com). You will not be able to make a claim for a refund if you exclude yourself from the Class, and if you exclude yourself, you will not be able to object to the settlement. Unless you exclude yourself you give up the right to sue the Defendants for all claims that are the subject of this lawsuit. If you stay in the Class, you may object to the settlement and you may appear and speak at the hearing, or hire an attorney of your choosing to speak at the hearing—at your own cost—but you are not required to appear at the hearing. Written objections must be filed with the Court by December 22, 2015 (with a copy to Defendants’ counsel and Class Counsel).  Details on how to opt-out or object, including specific requirements for opt-out requests and objections, are in the more detailed notice on the website, at www.EquityPropertyMASettlement.com. The Court will hold a hearing on January 12, 2016 to consider whether to approve the settlement and attorneys’ fees and awards for the Class Representatives.

For more detailed information about this class action and your rights and options, visit www.EquityPropertyMASettlement.com or call the 1-866-358-8886. Please do not reply to this message. Please send email inquiries to: EquityPropertyMA@DahlAdministration.com.

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One response to “How to Claim Settlement Funds from the Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit

  1. Pingback: Case Closed: Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit in Massachusetts | L E O N A R D * L A W * O F F I C E

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