Michigan AG orders senior facilities to stop charging $900 'COVID-19 fee'
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office has sent cease-and-desist letters to 11 senior facilities across the state following complaints from residents who claimed they were each charged a $900 "supplemental COVID-19 fee."
The letters were sent Tuesday to Brighton-based CSIG Holding Co. LLC; its facility management company, Senior Village Management LLC; and the facilities in Brighton, Petoskey, Plymouth, Oxford, Midland, Grand Ledge, White Lake, Rockford, Chesterfield and Saline, Nessel's office said in a statement.
Senior Living Portage LLC, which had a different registered agent but is affiliated with CSIG Holding, also was alerted.
According to the notice, the Attorney General's Office received complaints that last month the $900 fee "was unilaterally imposed on seniors as a mandatory charge without prior warning and consent."
A senior official with the company told investigators the charge was to help offset cost increases attributed to the COVID-19 response, including for meal service, personal protective equipment and cleaning services.
That person also said residents upset by the fee did not have to pay it, "bringing into question the fairness of a fee ultimately borne only by those too trusting or afraid to resist its imposition," Nessel's office said.
The charges were inconsistent with the residents’ leases and implicate unfair trade practices under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, state officials said Thursday.
“This pandemic has caused financial strain for many people and businesses in Michigan, but that does not provide companies with the right to impose unauthorized costs on their customers and clients — especially those in our senior communities and others who are already living on a fixed income,” Nessel said.
In a statement to The Detroit News, a Senior Village Management representative said: "We have been in contact with the Attorney General and we are NOT charging the COVID Fee stated in her statement."
The facility operators have until 10 days after receiving the cease-and-desist letter to respond or face an investigation and potential legal action, the Attorney General’s Office said. They must also sign an agreement requiring they cancel and refund the $900 fees to residents.