Okay, so we've contacted the zoning commission. That was no dice... The zoning in Frederick is designed very clearly to preserve downtown and let everything else be liberal. The lowest density area is a 4 family dwelling - single homes, duplexes and small apartment buildings fit this. So, no luck there. :P
Originally Posted by Donasay
The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division has a Mediation Unit
I've called them. The automated system essentially says "File a complaint and in 6 weeks we'll have status here for you". Speaking to a human tells me that answering those questions is beyond the scope of their office.
Originally Posted by Beeriffic
I lived in an apartment for a summer and this is how it was done for the water. There was only one meter per 8 apartments. The complex would get the bill from the water people, divide it by 8, then they had a thrid party collector send out the bill with our nem specifically on the bill. But, this was explicitly explained in the lease. Luckily for us, non of the people in the building were jerks and use too much water.
Honestly, that sounds shady as hell to me. You, on one hand, were notified very clearly in the lease. We, on the other hand, were not. The MAINTAINANCE guy didn't even know we didn't have a thermostat in the apartment until we complained. I'm certain the landlord doesn't know that herself. I'd perhaps be willing to pay half of the bill, and continue to pay it if three conditions were met:
1.) Don't make us responcible for collecting the neighbor's half.
2.) Provide control for us - ie. install a thermostat or move it
3.) She agree to maintain the utility in the event the neighbor doesn't pay his half.
Originally Posted by Beeriffic
You might also contact the gas company, something like this has bound to have happened before. Also, some states have VERY strict rules about having gas turned off in the cold months
We called the gas company and asked to speak to their legal department (who handles disputes). I'm sure there's a CYA policy in place, and I don't blame them, but their answer was, officially, that can't happen. The gas company can only bill the account holder and how they collect debt is a private matter.
However, you did mention the rules about no heat, which triggered another line of thought - could lack of control constitute "defective" heating equipment, making her obligation to provide working heaters broken?
I called the city and they looked into it. Well, having taken that avenue the city did an "investigation" which constituted calling the landlord. When he called me back I got the "real" story.
The landlord is broke. This means even though she's WILLING to ensure the heat stays on, she can't foot half of it to have it re-activated today. She CERTAINLY can't afford to have a second thermometer installed.
The city planner basically said he can't do anything about this issue directly, since we're legally obligated to pay for the gas per the lease - it being off is "technically" our responcibility. He went on to note, however, that even though she's meeting the city's requirements, there may be a lease violation on her side - we're required to get the bills in our name but due to issues with the premises, it's not possible. His suggestion was to contact an attorney to figure out exactly what each of our obligations are there... Fine, but it does nothing for us today.
I am kind of at peace though... This whole thing has been stressful and I just want a resolution. My wife and I have decided we're going to move, and while we're at our new place, fight over the deposit that we're sure she'll try to withold.
Under Maryland law, we're entitled to three times "wrongfully withheld" deposit, plus 3% simple interest (calculated every 6 months) plus full legal fees. So.. Apartment hunting... Yay.