PhotoA lawsuit charges that a nationwide chain of retirement homes preys on elderly veterans, luring them into expensive housing plans on the promise that their government benefits will cover the costs, then hitting them with thousands of dollars in deferred rent when the benefits don't come through.

Lead defendant Holiday Retirement operates more than 300 senior living homes in the United States and targets veterans and their survivors as prospective tenants, lead plaintiff Richard Dickinson says in the lawsuit, according to Courthouse News Service.

Dickinson and three others claim the chain uses high-pressure sales tactics to  "induce veterans and their surviving spouses to move into its facilities whether or not they can afford the monthly rent."

The suit, filed in Multnomah County Court in Oregon, accuses Holiday of elder abuse, unlawful trade, breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.

High-pressure tactics

They claim Holiday's high-pressure tactics are designed to "induce veterans and their surviving spouses to move into its facilities whether or not they can afford the monthly rent."

In June 2012, Holiday Retirement announced that "to honor and recognize the brave men and women who have served their country," it was offering $900 off first month’s rent to the 26,000 members of the American Military Retirees Association (AMRA).

"Our new partnership with the American Military Retirees Association is yet another opportunity for Holiday Retirement to celebrate veterans and their families,” Holiday Retirement CEO Jack Callison said. “We are grateful that so many veterans choose to call our communities home, and we are honored to have the chance to continue serving those who’ve made tremendous sacrifices for our country.”

Based in Lake Oswego, Ore., Holiday Retirement claims to have "founded the concept of independent senior retirement living in 1971" and says it is the largest provider in North America with more than 300 communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

"Holiday Retirement is in the business of providing security, comfort, and value to independent seniors seeking a fulfilling lifestyle in a welcoming environment," the company said in the news release announcing the promotion with AMRA.

A different picture

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuit paint different picture. 

"Plaintiffs allege that defendants deceived them as part of a scheme to increase occupancy rates and rental income at retirement communities operated by Holiday," the complaint states. "Holiday targeted war veterans and their survivors as potential residents and induced them to move into high-cost housing by misrepresenting a pension program administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the 'VA') called Aid and Attendance and Homebound Status ('Aid and Attendance').

The promised benefits never came through and says they are now being charged "rent that is beyond their means and continues to increase."

They are represented by Andrea Ogston with Legal Aid Services of Oregon.

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