Rutledge Announces Suit Against Little Rock Housing Complex

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a lawsuit against Big Country Chateau, a multifamily housing complex serving low-income and Section 8 housing consumers in Little Rock, for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). The suit alleges that the complex is supported by central utility meters for water and electricity, requiring the tenants to pay their utilities directly to the apartment complex as part of their lease agreements. Despite many tenants paying accordingly, the company chose to pocket the money designated for utility payments instead of paying the utility companies. As early as 2019, Big Country Chateau received notice from Central Arkansas Water that its account was in default. The company has failed to pay the $222,931 owed to the utility company. In addition, Big Country Chateau failed to pay Entergy Arkansas from March to August 2022, paying the outstanding balance of approximately $71,000 only after the City of Little Rock initiated an investigation into the apartment complex. Big Country Chateau’s defaults were easily concealed from tenants due to the disconnection moratoriums in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, tenants are facing water utility shutoffs in September despite having paid for their utilities.

“Big Country Chateau advertised livable homes with working utilities but that is not what they provided Arkansans on fixed incomes,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “When Big Country Chateau did not use the money residents paid for utilities, they not only deceived the tenants, but they broke the law.”

The suit resulted from an extensive investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, most notably highlighted by a July 27, 2022 inspection by state and local officials. The complaint alleges that Big Country Chateau defrauded tenants of the money designated for utility payments, as well as violated the ADTPA when it leased the housing units to the public, despite failing to ensure the units met adequate standards required by Arkansas law and city ordinances. The lawsuit also names Big Country Chateau’s parent company, Apex Equity Group, a New Jersey based multi-state real estate developer and property management group. The company faces a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

Full complaint can be read here.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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