Home > business, Real Estate > Lessons for Business Owners from Recent DOJ Suit: Grand Rapids Landlords to Pay $550,000 and Terminate Manager’s Responsibilities

Lessons for Business Owners from Recent DOJ Suit: Grand Rapids Landlords to Pay $550,000 and Terminate Manager’s Responsibilities

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release yesterday afternoon regarding a Settlement reached with a Grand Rapids Real Estate Owner concerning actions of its Property Manager.  You can see the Press release here


According to the press release, “the owners of the Alger Meadows Apartments in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have agreed to pay $550,000 in damages and civil penalties and to terminate property manager Dale VanderVennen’s role in managing the complex to settle a lawsuit alleging that VanderVennen sexually harassed female tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).”


You can read the press release, and the complaint as well, since it is public record, about the details of the allegations against Mr. VanderVennen concerning the allegations of inappropriate actions against female tenants in the buildings that he managed.


There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this whole mess – I will highlight 3.


1. Hard to Come by Good Property Managers

I have noticed this problem that applies to clients of mine who own investment real estate – it can be a challenge to find good, honest property managers!

This press release highlights, among other things, the fact that there is a need for good, honest property managers in West Michigan. If you are a property manager, or looking to get into that role, you can set yourself apart by ethical and competent behavior.


2. Business Owners – take care in who you employ – it is a reflection on you.


Certainly there is no allegation that I can see in the complaint that any of the direct owners played a role in the actual misconduct against tenants, however, legally that is not an excuse.  Business owners would do well to insulate themselves from liability by surrounding themselves with good people.  I see this problem most often arise with construction clients of mine, hiring unethical subs (because its hard to find good people)


3. Business Owners – Take Value in Protecting your Privacy through your LLC.


Many of clients form LLCs to hold their real estate, or other business ventures. There is an added benefit to holding property as such – it provides a level of anonymity to the members/owners. The State of Michigan Limited Liability Act requires a resident agent be named, but it doesn’t require that it be an owner. To add a level of privacy, (business owners can value privacy for numerous reasons, case in point) add an agent not connected with the business. I often times serve as agent for business clients of mine.


Questions? Comments?

email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com













Categories: business, Real Estate
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