Attorney General Koster obtains judgment against Joplin landlord for taking unfair advantage of tornado victims

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today he has obtained a consent judgment against a Joplin landlord for alleged price gouging and other violations in the aftermath of the May 22 Joplin tornado.

Koster said David Box, Jr., rents out apartments at Northside Apartments and Classic Townhouses. Following the May 22 tornado, Box notified tenants that their rent was being raised and required that they contact him within three days or their rental unit could be leased to someone else.

Koster said his office received complaints from 13 renters who had received the notice from Box. In one instance, a renter was notified his rent would go from $475 per month to $595 per month, a 25 percent increase. Two other renters were notified their rent would go from $475 to $550 per month, a 16 percent increase.

“Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy,” Koster said, “I want to continue to assure consumers that this office will be aggressive in going after those who engage in this illegal behavior.”

Koster said that under the judgment, Box is prohibited from:

  • further violations of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Law;
  • conducting business under any name not registered with the Missouri Secretary of State;
  • employing duress in raising rent;
  • providing tenants with less than 30 days’ notice of any rent increase;
  • requiring renters to make a decision on an increase in their rent within less than 7 days of the notice;
  • charging an excessive price for a necessity within a disaster area; and
  • taking advantage of the renters’ hardship by charging substantially above market price.

In addition, Koster said Box is ordered to provide restitution to those harmed by his actions and send them a letter of apology for using duress in a time of tragedy, and to pay a $5,000 civil penalty and all court costs. Should Box violate any terms of the judgment, he will be assessed an additional $5,000 penalty.

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