American Campus Communities Services will pay $444,775 to plaintiffs who said in a federal class action lawsuit that they were deceived by the student housing company's marketing practices.
Judge John A. Ross of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri approved the settlement June 20. Of the money American Campus Communities agreed to pay, $275,000 is considered the “class benefit fund” that will be divided evenly among the claimants. Each of the 852 shares will equal $322.77.
The company also will pay about $40,000 to cover the administrative costs, $125,000 in attorneys’ fees and $5,000 to the named plaintiff, Brian Fellows, for his service as a representative of the class.
Fellows represented residents who alleged they entered leases based on advertised “monthly” rental rates “even though the lease itself only lasted eleven and a half months,” according to Ross’s final order. The plaintiffs alleged that the lease structure resulted in tenants paying twice what they should have for the last two weeks of their leases.
After the lawsuit was filed, American Campus Communities changed its advertising by getting rid of the “monthly” language and replacing it with “installment” payments, according to Ross’s order. To be eligible to join the class, tenants must have signed a new lease between Nov. 1, 2012, and Nov. 15, 2016, with American Campus Communities at either The Cottages of Columbia, Grindstone Canyon or Forest Village and Woodlake.