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pookyloo

Rental Utilities

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My apartment lease requires me to keep the utilities on, including the gas which is only used to heat the apartment and runs about $30 a month when not in use.  

I am on long term leave due to health issues and my income has been reduced 40%.  I have always paid my rent on time but got behind on other bills, so I had the gas shut off a few months ago because it wasn’t in use.

I received my monthly rent statement and they are charging me $160 for disconnecting.  My lease states...”you’ll be liable for $50 charge (not to exceed $50 per violation) plus the actual or estimated cost of the utilities used while the utility should have been connected.”

I am being charged the $50 violation fee twice, for two months and the use fee of $30 twice.  If I’m reading the lease correctly there should have only been one violation fee, regardless of the amount of time it’s been off.

I’m going to speak to the manager and explain my financial situation and see if we can work this out, but I’d like to know if I’m interpreting the lease correctly.

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9 minutes ago, pookyloo said:

My apartment lease requires me to keep the utilities on

 

Can you quote the provision in the lease that imposes this requirement?  Have you asked your landlord why he/she/it cares about you having a utility on that you aren't using?  In what state is your residence located?

 

 

10 minutes ago, pookyloo said:

I received my monthly rent statement and they are charging me $160 for disconnecting.

 

Who are "they"?  If "they" refers to your landlord, why would your landlord know that you had turned off the gas?

 

 

12 minutes ago, pookyloo said:

If I’m reading the lease correctly there should have only been one violation fee, regardless of the amount of time it’s been off.

I’m going to speak to the manager and explain my financial situation and see if we can work this out, but I’d like to know if I’m interpreting the lease correctly.

 

Depends on what "per violation" means.  I tend to agree that your interpretation that your act of turning off the gas was only a single "violation" makes sense, but interpreting it to mean that a new "violation" occurs each month that the service is off is not completely unreasonable.

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4 minutes ago, pg1067 said:

 

Can you quote the provision in the lease that imposes this requirement?  Have you asked your landlord why he/she/it cares about you having a utility on that you aren't using?  In what state is your residence located?

 

 

 

Who are "they"?  If "they" refers to your landlord, why would your landlord know that you had turned off the gas?

 

 

 

Depends on what "per violation" means.  I tend to agree that your interpretation that your act of turning off the gas was only a single "violation" makes sense, but interpreting it to mean that a new "violation" occurs each month that the service is off is not completely unreasonable.

The lease states:  You must not allow utilities (other than cable or internet) to be cut off or switched for any reason - including disconnection for not paying your bills, until the lease term or renewal period ends.  

 

To to answer the rest of your questions, this is a large corporate owned complex in Texas.  The charges originated in my local leasing office.

 

I just checked and the pilot light is still on so, the gas company didn’t disconnect.  They switched billing to the office. That was not my intention.  

 

 

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25 minutes ago, pookyloo said:

They switched billing to the office. That was not my intention.  

 

The LL likely has an agreement in place with the utilities to automatically switch utilities over to them instead of having them shut off.

 

There will likely be a fee charged by the gas company when they are switched back on. You owe this fee and $50 fee the LL charges and you agreed to in the lease.

 

You agreed all of this in the lease.

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Yes, I did agree to it when I signed the lease.  My circumstances have changed dramatically and I chose to break a provision.  I am legally liable.  No argument here.

 

My question is based solely on whether the wording of the lease agreement makes the violation charge one time per violation or an ongoing monthly charge per violation.

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Please quote the whole section of the lease that references the charges for violations.

The portions that are missing from the excerpt that you quoted in your original post may help determine the answer to your question.

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1 hour ago, pookyloo said:

The lease states:  You must not allow utilities (other than cable or internet) to be cut off or switched for any reason - including disconnection for not paying your bills, until the lease term or renewal period ends.

 

Is that an actual quote?  If so, is this language followed by the language you put in quotation marks in your original post?  Just FYI, your use of a contraction ("you'll") makes me think you might be summarizing rather than quoting.

 

While I'm still curious why the landlord cares about this, the only question is how much you're on the hook for.  Based solely on what you put in your original post, I think you have the better argument -- i.e., that the more appropriate charge is $110, not $160.

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4 minutes ago, pg1067 said:

 

Is that an actual quote?  If so, is this language followed by the language you put in quotation marks in your original post?  Just FYI, your use of a contraction ("you'll") makes me think you might be summarizing rather than quoting.

 

While I'm still curious why the landlord cares about this, the only question is how much you're on the hook for.  Based solely on what you put in your original post, I think you have the better argument -- i.e., that the more appropriate charge is $110, not $160.

Lol!  Yes, that is the actual wording on the lease, contractions and all. 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, adjusterjack said:

It's possible that there is one fee to switch the billing to the LL and another fee to switch it back to you.

 

 

I had to edit my answer because I see the lease does allow this, but I’ve not been charged transfer fees; only 2 violation and usage fees.

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32 minutes ago, MiddlePart said:

Please quote the whole section of the lease that references the charges for violations.

The portions that are missing from the excerpt that you quoted in your original post may help determine the answer to your question.

Here is the text of the whole provision.

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Based on the text of the entire clause (and assuming there's nothing in any other section of the lease that bears on the question), I think you have the better argument -- that the landlord should be charging you $110 ($50 + $30x2) and not $160.

 

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22 minutes ago, MiddlePart said:

Based on the text of the entire clause (and assuming there's nothing in any other section of the lease that bears on the question), I think you have the better argument -- that the landlord should be charging you $110 ($50 + $30x2) and not $160.

 

Thank you for your input.  I believe that interpretation is correct.

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7 minutes ago, PayrollHRGuy said:

And if the charge is $30/month as you said in your original post you will be seeing that charge monthly as well.

Yes, that fee is recurring, but per the lease, I don’t believe the violation fee should be.

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12 minutes ago, PayrollHRGuy said:

I don't either. But you are costing yourself money.  The LL is going to charge you whatever he is billed which will be the same thing you would be paying yourself.

So true!  I never dreamed a seasonal disconnect would cause all of this.  Lesson learned.

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I went to the office and spoke to the Assistant Manager about this.  She spoke to the manager and relayed to me that if I paid the $8.33 of the $158.33 and showed proof of turning the gas back on, that they would take off the remaining $150.  I did as I was told and when I received my next bill, they had taken off less than half the charges.  When I called, she told me she had only agreed to take off half (which she didn’t and also didn’t give me credit for what I’d already paid).  I didn’t get it in writing so I had no choice but to pay it.  I paid with a separate check from the rent and wrote a letter telling her I didn’t appreciate the deal being changed after I kept my end.

 

When I paid the rent and the fee (always on time), I requested maintenance on my ac.  It states in the lease agreement that they are responsible for maintaining ac equipment.  My request was ignored.  I then put in a request through the resident portal.  That too has been ignored.  I feel that this is retaliation for the unrelated dispute and a type of harassment.  I plan to send a certified letter requesting maintenance but what are my options if it too is ignored.  Can I have it fixed and deduct from the rent?  Can I break my lease for breach of contract?

 

 

 

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