Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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Landlord & Tenant; Security Deposit; Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | March 16, 2015

No. 1,127

MATTHEW HANSEN, ALEC SPERGEL, COLLIN SCHWARTZ AND COREY NORD-PODBERESKY v. MICHAEL BUPP, NO. 673 WDA 2014, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, filed February 24, 2014.



A group of students at the University of Pittsburgh entered into a residential lease with Michael Bupp. They paid the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit in advance, for a total of $5,990.00.

The first of the group to move in, Spergel, identified some items in need of repair, including a bath drain, a light, various locks, which he communicated to Bupp by email.  Bupp responded with a text message stating: “I cannot deal with your group.  Please leave.”

In a telephone conversation which Spergel’s parents heard on the speaker phone, Bupp launch  an epic stream of expletives. As a result, Spergel moved out and the others never moved in.

Bupp refused to return the rent and security deposit payments.  He stated that they had abandoned the premises despite his promises to perform the repairs.

On appeal from the award of the Arbitrators, a jury entered a verdict for the tenants in the amount of $3,990.00.  The trial court thereafter took additional evidence on the Plaintiffs’ claims under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. (UTPCPL)

“Based upon this evidence, the trial court molded the verdict to add $10,000 in attorneys’ fees, $457.25 in costs, and $6,010 in exemplary damages. By order dated March 28, 2014, the trial court denied Bupp’s post-trial motions and entered judgment in favor of Appellees in the amount of $20,457.25.”

“Bupp contends that Appellants “offered no evidence that supports the contention that Bupp made misrepresentations to [Appellants] that could in any manner be construed as fraudulent or deceptive.” Bupp’s Brief at 13. Bupp further argues that Appellants “have offered nothing to suggest that Bupp represented he would make repairs and failed to make such repairs,” and that the “uncontroverted testimony at trial” reflects that Appellants ‘were substantially satisfied with the apartment on August 20, 2012, having moved in with no express intention of vacating….’ Id. at 12.”

The Superior Court held that a landlord wrongfully withholding a security deposit constitutes an unfair trade practice under the statute, relying on Wallace v. Pastore, 742 A.2d 1090 (Pa. Super 1999).



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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