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bellisimo
11-24-2008, 08:46 AM
so i had a meeting with my landlord today.

they created this massive calculations over the past 3 years that i've been living there and have came up with a bill that is close to 2,000USD that I owe them. :eek:

From day one we had agreed that I would pay a fix fee to cover the utilities...now they are saying that it was just an estimate and that i would have to compensate for the additional fees over that...over the course of 3 years that has reached close to 2,000USD now...

I have no idea what I can do in this mess...this feels like highway robbery to me.

In our contract it states that i would pay for the rent and plus a fix fee deposit for the utility. But it does not mention anything about paying more money if the deposit does not cover it...

anyone have any suggestions?

N8R
11-24-2008, 09:01 AM
See a lawyer. Change your name. Move. Or Fake your own death. All 4 have worked for me in various degrees in the past.

Sorry, I know I am a jackass.

But seriously see a lawyer friend or refuse to pay and move out. Get someone smart to read over your contract and explain the situation. I know there are some lawyer type people on PD who might have better input.

bellisimo
11-24-2008, 09:05 AM
I have one lawyer friend who read the contract before and said that they can't ask me for more money...but now she is out of the country till the middle of december...

the utility invoices are not under my name - the electricity/gas/etc companies charge it to the owner of the apartment.

from that perspective - they can't hold me responsible for these fees...right?

N8R
11-24-2008, 09:07 AM
I wouldnt think so, but I have no idea. I wouldnt pay, but that is me. Cheaper to move that deal with that crap.

Trader Joe
11-24-2008, 09:54 AM
I have no idea about European leases so it could be different, but it probably depends on how the lease reads. If it says that the fixed fee will cover all utilities you probably have a defense, if not you could be in trouble. I don't know tough to say for sure. I suppose what could really be something is if you asked them if you could recover any of that fixed fee for any of the times you paid more than what your utilities actually were.

indygeezer
11-24-2008, 01:44 PM
I have one lawyer friend who read the contract before and said that they can't ask me for more money...but now she is out of the country till the middle of december...

the utility invoices are not under my name - the electricity/gas/etc companies charge it to the owner of the apartment.

from that perspective - they can't hold me responsible for these fees...right?

We have a saying in our Real Estate office. "What is WRITTEN in the contract?" Intentions be hanged, promises be damned...it comes down to what did the principals WRITE DOWN ana SIGN TO? I don't know the courts where you are living, but that's how it works here.

BTW Turk...we have new neighbors from Ukraine. Well new for a year now. They have a daughter commuting to college in Indy...drop dead gorgeous. I mean DROP DEAD GORGEOUS....and Geezer Jr. has never even seen her.

ChicagoJ
11-24-2008, 02:24 PM
I have one lawyer friend who read the contract before and said that they can't ask me for more money...but now she is out of the country till the middle of december...

the utility invoices are not under my name - the electricity/gas/etc companies charge it to the owner of the apartment.

from that perspective - they can't hold me responsible for these fees...right?

That doesn't really matter. The agreement is between you and the landlord, and you clearly are not being billed directly for the utilities (or you wouldn't be having this fight with your landlord, it would be with the utility company.)

Just because they send you a bill doesn't mean you have to pay it. Geezer's advise seems right to me - what is the actual language?

This may not be what you want to hear, but it looks to me like the high price of oil has lowered their profit margin and they are trying to recoup some of it. But the use of the word "deposit" could be problematic for you if it implies the ability to raise or lower the final amount to the actual invoices.

Further, I don't know of many contracts that guarantee ("fixed amount") energy/ ulilty payments for three years out. If it is some type of forward contract, how much did you pay for the right to "lock in" the (monthly) rate?

I will say this, if you did sign a contract three years ago and locked in your utility bills at 2005 prices, the rest of us are all jealous. Good move.

But why did it take them three years to communicate any of this? That is not nice. You should absolutely review the contract for any "true-up" provisions and frequencies (that could nullify the older charges) (the true-up provision might also include a refund to you if the actual invoices are lower.)

Good luck. And if necessary, pay a good lawyer their hourly rate to read the contract and give you unbiased advise. Beward the advise you might get on a "contingent basis" as it doesn't cost the lawyer anything to 'lose', but it will cost you more than $2k US to fight and lose.

Putnam
11-24-2008, 03:19 PM
Strange as it may seem, Nater is giving better advice than ChicagoJ. This is Budapest were talking about, and you are a foreigner. Running away might be a good plan.

How easy will it be to find another place to live? Is your work visa in jeopardy if you bail? Is your hunch that they're just trying to strong arm you?

You should talk to some of the other tenants and see if they're getting the same treatment. Are they coming after you because they think you'll be easier to squeeze?

ChicagoJ
11-24-2008, 03:24 PM
Strange as it may seem, Nater is giving better advice than ChicagoJ. This is Budapest were talking about, and you are a foreigner. Running away might be a good plan.

Good point.

Ownagedood
11-24-2008, 03:43 PM
Ya, you have to follow anything WRITTEN.. But if it says something about the fixed rate in there, your good, they can't get any money out of you no matter what, but if it doesn't, then it just depends what it does say..

Worse comes to worse, and you have to pay it eventually, you could get an agreement to slowly pay it in small amounts each month or so.

Los Angeles
11-24-2008, 06:40 PM
I don't have any advise, but I'm sure your out of town lawyer friend can give you a referral.

Or you can just move out and fight this in court.

Either way, it sounds like your relationship with your landlord is over, and you need to move on. There's no sense in giving this jerk money every month.

Bball
11-24-2008, 09:13 PM
I might be reading more into the story than is really there but it sounds to me like the rising price of utilities has led your landlord to re-evaluate the contract wording (re-interpret). I see a problem (red flag) with the use of the word "deposit". Deposit implies to me that it's only a partial payment.

It could be for years the deposit was more than enough to cover utilities and was actually a point of profit for him. ...You said the wording didn't say anything about paying above the deposit, I bet it doesn't say anything about him refunding any overpayments either.

The Devil is always in the details so the full wording will be important. If there is an apparent gray area that strikes me right away it would be if any overpayments were ever refunded and/or why it took 3 years to bill you for this in the first place.

I have no idea whether there is anything in the laws where you are that would invalidate any of these charges due to the length of time involved. There could be some kind of controlling law on this that would require the landlord to bill you in X amount of days for the charges or they are voided. I'm not saying there are these laws or regulations, it's just something I'd look into to make certain a landlord could even make charges that go back 2-3 years.

Haggard
11-24-2008, 09:28 PM
Short of knowing the in's and outs of your contract with your landlord or the relevant legislation in your area,

I would see if I can find the relevant residential tenancy legislation (search the web) for your state and have a bit of a read.

Short of that a lot of governments have agencies to help or assist with these issues. I know where I live its called the Department of Consumer & Employment Protection. I would be surpised if there wasn't something similar where you are.
There may also be a citizen's advice bureau too that can offer advice.

that might be a better option before paying dollars for lawyers.

btowncolt
11-25-2008, 12:20 AM
Ah, contracts and landlord-tenant law. I wish I were not so well-versed in these.

I've really got nothing for you beyond what's already been said by others.

The language and local laws are important.

Running away does not necessarily solve anything - jurisdiction is a bit more tricky in Europe (depending on the court any further claim could be brought in).

Don't pay anything right now. Find another lawyer.

If this situations changes, please update this thread or pm me.

I'm certainly no lawyer (yet), but I have a jury trial scheduled for circumstances not wholly dissimilar to this in March (Massachusetts has fun rules about student practitioners) and could at least give you some general, vague American rules.

Fight the man.

Unless you are the man some day. Then just get the damn kids to stop playing their damn music so loud.

bellisimo
11-25-2008, 04:27 AM
thanks for all your useful inputs.

I'm going to have the contract passed through another lawyer to see if there is any loop for me to hold my ground of not coughing up any extra dough...

the contract was signed 3 years ago for an indefinite period of time - and since then the landlord did not come to me with any updates on the prices...which is what bothers me...if it was not sufficient enough the past 2 years why not come and let me know so we can work out a new deal instead of coming to me with a collected fee?! that part is disturbing.

N8R
11-25-2008, 05:15 AM
I know there is a statute of limitations as well on money owed but this might be too recent for that to come into effect, worse case scenerio, you fly me to you town and I get rid of your landlord for less than he is wanting from you. Invest in murder.

indygeezer
11-25-2008, 04:13 PM
I know there is a statute of limitations as well on money owed but this might be too recent for that to come into effect, worse case scenerio, you fly me to you town and I get rid of your landlord for less than he is wanting from you. Invest in murder.

He lives in East Europe.

cgg
11-25-2008, 09:31 PM
I'd imagine that you can get someone murdered for pretty cheap there.

bellisimo
11-27-2008, 04:08 AM
well the lawyer tells me i'm screwed...the contract apparently states that i am responsible for all the utilities....#@)$(

N8R
11-27-2008, 05:03 AM
Run and dont look back

indygeezer
11-27-2008, 07:09 AM
well the lawyer tells me i'm screwed...the contract apparently states that i am responsible for all the utilities....#@)$(

and a year and a half ago the doctors told my step-father that he had 6 months to live. Get a 2nd opinion.

bellisimo
11-27-2008, 07:35 AM
and a year and a half ago the doctors told my step-father that he had 6 months to live. Get a 2nd opinion.

there is an additional "point" later on in the contract which states that "the renter is responsible to pay the fees of all used utilities during stay which includes but not limited to gas, electricity, telephone/etc" or something to that word....its in Hungarian...and my Hungarian is ****.

indygeezer
11-27-2008, 08:32 AM
there is an additional "point" later on in the contract which states that "the renter is responsible to pay the fees of all used utilities during stay which includes but not limited to gas, electricity, telephone/etc" or something to that word....its in Hungarian...and my Hungarian is ****.

And the young lady is due back when?

Haggard
11-27-2008, 09:35 AM
there is an additional "point" later on in the contract which states that "the renter is responsible to pay the fees of all used utilities during stay which includes but not limited to gas, electricity, telephone/etc" or something to that word....its in Hungarian...and my Hungarian is ****.


I've had a few years experience in the court system with this sort of stuff. If your contract says that then that really sucks for you. It's a real shame the landlord sat on it for so long to let it accumulate. It may be possible to work out a deal with the landlord to pay it off in installments.

If you feel it has to be paid. Maybe explain that as it has accumulated over time its become a considerable sum to pay off in one lot. If you are prepared of offer a payment in instalments then they might me prepared to take it. I don't know what the rental market is like there but the land lord would probably rather installments than have an empty house.

Bball
11-27-2008, 10:13 AM
I'd certainly ask why the landlord sat on the bill for so long before billing you.

The timing is suspicious. I still lean toward thinking that in year's past the deposit was a point of profit for the landlord, then the economy falls, fuel prises raise, and he revisits the contract to see that he's legally entitled to some money and decides to not only start enforcing that part of the contract, but to go back 3 years to collect a small windfall.

If he would've billed you for the underpayments in a timely fashion it would've been a more reasonable 55.00 per month or thereabouts... or that is the amount the deposit needed raised by.

Still, if the contract says you owe utilities, and nothing in the law requires him to bill you by a certain date, then you're left only with the landlord's moral compass in being reasonable about waiting until 3 years of bills had accumulated before charging you. Hopefully, not only would he accept payments on the sum but also that he'd consider giving you a break on the total. Also, something needs worked out so that you get billed for any overcharges in a much more reasonable fashion to keep the charges manageable.

Of course I say 'goes back 3 years'.... Maybe 2 years of those deposits WERE a profit for him and he didn't return the overpayment let alone save it to apply toward any future years (such as now) when the utility deposit no longer was enough to cover the bill.

Maybe instead of asking why it took so long to bill you, maybe you should ask to see the utility charges to compare what you've paid MONTHLY to what's been charged monthly by the utilities. IOW- Maybe the past 2 years you have been short 2000.00 but maybe the first year you overpaid by 1000.00.

-Bball

bellisimo
11-27-2008, 11:33 AM
thanks for your suggestions guys...

its not just one person but rather the real estate agency that is responsible for this...for some reason with my neighbors they have been billed regularly every month in regards to their usage of the utilities but with us they never established such a guideline and just accepted the "deposit" that we were paying...

the latest story that they are telling me is that the "electric company" was able to check the meter for the first time after 3 years and have sent them a massive bill to pay because they were always paying with an "estimate"...I don't really know if that would really work at all - it sounds a bit too weird...but i shall definitely ask for the bill to see where it is and how it is - cause this makes very little sense overall.

Los Angeles
11-27-2008, 12:08 PM
You can fight this unreasonable explosion in cost. It makes no sense to me that the electric company could check your neighbor's meter and not yours. Tell them that this is not your fault and that access to the meter is he responsibility of the managing company and they should eat the cost. To send an olive branch offer to pay the overage from the last 3 months because that is a reasonable amount of time for them to be delinquent in notifying you. Any reasonable judge would split this in half.

indygeezer
11-27-2008, 01:20 PM
You can fight this unreasonable explosion in cost. It makes no sense to me that the electric company could check your neighbor's meter and not yours. Tell them that this is not your fault and that access to the meter is he responsibility of the managing company and they should eat the cost. To send an olive branch offer to pay the overage from the last 3 months because that is a reasonable amount of time for them to be delinquent in notifying you. Any reasonable judge would split this in half.

One thing in mind....he's a foreigner living in an east European country. The courts and judges may react differently elsewhere.

In reality Bellisimo, you may have to get the judge, the lawyers, and the landlord together and introduce them to a few of your models.

bellisimo
01-15-2009, 04:44 AM
after all thats been said and done...ended up moving out of the apartment and agreed to share the costs 50-50 after getting them to agree that it was also their fault for all of this bullshi+.

N8R
01-15-2009, 05:14 AM
Glad to hear it is all resolved there Belli. Now you can get back to what's important. Ladies and Basketball

Raskolnikov
01-15-2009, 05:16 AM
And counting?