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Old 12-06-2007, 04:36 PM   #1
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Default Landlord Woes

Okay, this is a tad long so please bear with me.

My wife and I moved into this apartment in April 2006 for a 1 year lease. The lease made us responcible for utilities "named below" being water, gas and electricity. It stipulated that the utilities must be switched into our name and that upon moving out, any balance paid by the landlord could be withheld as back rent. (It also stipulates that we must pay swimming pool cleaning fees. It's a generic contract: we don't have a pool.)

When we called back then to have the gas and water put in our name were were told in both cases the same thing: "The property was built in 1930 as a single-family dwelling so there's only one inlet, we can't bill to a specific apartment." We told this to the landlord who then said she'd "take care of it".

In December 2006 we called the landlord to complain about the heat not working. She promptly sent out a maintainance guy who had to drain the furnace and stare at it baffled wonder why it didn't work. It then dawned on him to check the obvious "Is your thermostat turned on?". My wife and I looked like 'What thermostat?"

It turned out that like the gas inlet and water inlet, there's only one heating system in the building. The thermostat is located in the other apartment. Luckily, we're cool with our neighbor and the property is "cheap" so this wasn't an issue really.

Fast forward a year to two days ago. Once again the heat isn't working, so I went downstairs and flushed the system out myself. I then noticed the pilot light was out. I attempted to re-light it (and failed) so we called the landlord again who sent out a technician.

My wife got a call yesterday from the landlord saying she was "pretty upset" that she had wasted money on the technician when the gas had been turned off. "We don't pay the gas bill" my wife said to her. "That's why the gas is off, you guys didn't pay the bill."

The landlord now states that she sent notices to us that we (my wife and I) and the neighbor (Jim) would have to split the bill evenly (reminder: I don't have a thermostat and can't control how much gas is used) and that we'd have to pay it ourselves. If we had any problem collecting the bill from our neighbor (us, not her!) to call her and she'd handle it. Since we hadn't paid her, she stopped paying the bill in March 2007 and to get it back on WE (my wife and I) would have to pay the back bill and the inspection fee to get it turned back on. The total, $1,355 (per the gas company).

BULL!

My wife and I are pro-actively consulting a lawyer. We don't think she can legally charge us for a utility that can't be put in our name and where even the gas company can't measure our usage. We want to ensure that she can't claim we owe that money and we want to ensure that she can't withhold our deposit because of that.

What do you guys think? Is this lady abusing us or did we walk into this one? Anyone with experience with this kind of thing? Anyone a tenent lawyer in Maryland? :P

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Old 12-06-2007, 04:41 PM   #2
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I would say a bit of both. Never, ever, never take someone word of faith with reguards to contracts or rental agreements. With this instance you may have a case since she rented you an living space that advertisises heat and or ac but have no control of it. Its going to be a tuff call. if you signed nothing from the gas company then you need to find a new place to live and tell her to frimly pack sand in her vajayjay.

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Old 12-06-2007, 04:43 PM   #3
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Who's name is the utility bill in?
Your neighbor or the landlord?

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Old 12-06-2007, 05:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReverendJC
With this instance you may have a case since she rented you an living space that advertisises heat and or ac but have no control of it. Its going to be a tuff call. if you signed nothing from the gas company then you need to find a new place to live and tell her to frimly pack sand in her vajayjay.
We signed nothing with the gas company. They very clearly told us they could NOT put the bill in our name because the infrastructure doesn't consider there to be an Apartment 1 and 2, JUST the street address.

As to the moving, we're certainly looking into it. Moving is a pain, but so is getting screwed and living in anxiety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by olllllo
Who's name is the utility bill in?
Your neighbor or the landlord?
The bill in in the landlord's name, not mine nor my neighbor.
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:16 PM   #5
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BUY A HOUSE!

I did and have never looked back. Although I will bitch about property taxes

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Old 12-06-2007, 05:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFlynn
BUY A HOUSE!
My first version of this post actually began with "I rent. I have crappy credit, very little money in savings and I plan to move in the next three years."
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:21 PM   #7
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Do you have any local :
- tenant advocay group?
- state board regulating tenant-landlord rules of the game?

What is the other tenant doing about it?

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Old 12-06-2007, 05:25 PM   #8
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Spend the next year workign on your credit-

Challange everything on your report. Most of the time the creditors will ignore the challenges and the credit beauro will drop the negatives-

Also look- find a trusted lender- 700 will get you a great rate. 650 will get you in.

The Housing market is slow and its a huge buy market. Make some low offers and see what you get.
At least this way your not paying someone elses mortgage.

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Old 12-06-2007, 05:44 PM   #9
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1. Start looking for a new place.
2. Kiss your deposit goodbye, and get over it. This will not end nicely and your efforts to protect it will cost more than the deposit.
3. Due to #2. Start heating yourselves with a little campfire in the living room (Make sure you construct a little chimney flue and route it through the wall).
It sucks, but realize that your only risk is the deposit and the landlord has MUCH more to lose. Something she should have realized a while ago.

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Old 12-06-2007, 05:56 PM   #10
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I hope you're joking with #3, Germey! Constructing some kind of fire-hazard that is not to code in a rental property without landlord permission is a surefire way to end up with a lawsuit. There is MUCH more to risk than the deposit. Just because there's a thousand bucks in deposit money doesn't mean the landlord can't come at you for costs above and beyond that. I mean, if that were the case, you could burn the fuggin house to the ground and all you'd be liable for was the deposit money. Not quite!

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