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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10647
Experience:  Commercial and residential leases in NY & NJ & US
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My ex-Property management company in WA has been asking due

Customer Question

My ex-Property management company in WA has been asking for charges due to error in water charge calculations after 7 months of settlement and termination of lease agreement. They have not provided basis of their calculation of charges and have been pushing
me to pay $268.15. They have also reported matter to the Credit Bureau as delinquency on my credit report. I need assistance to deal with their arrogant behavior and unjustified call for charges. I would like to register the dispute legally or send to an arbitration
so that I can get unbiased decision. I am not sure which authority should interrogate the unfair treatment by this Property Management company. thanks,
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am disputing the charge since the information provided so far is without any basis of the calculations.
I am also disputing since without providing enough details on the amount, they have put delinquent remark on my credit report with Credit Bureau. This is unwarranted and they have suppressed my Right to the Information.
I am also not sure why I should be responsible for any additional charges after 7 months of settlement and lease termination. The lease does not have any such clause.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1. I moved out on Aug 31, 2014 after the lease termination.
2. I settled every cent charged to me in the final settlement bill (have all copies). I was apid a check of $177.95 after deduction of final charges from my security deposit.
3. Yes, I have their letter stating final account and showing credit of $177.95.4. On 03/17/15, I was sent a letter asking for outstanding of $268.15 and had few other documents attached stating that the landlords main water meter was wrongly read and the City of Redmond has asked for arrears to pay $55,537 and my share is $268.15. I have questioned them 2 things, :
a) how come I am liable for the charges after the final settlement?
b) what are the basis of calculation for $268.15. There is no basis of calculation for the 18 months period which are they basing the amount.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for.

Is there anything in your lease agreement that says disputes are to arbitrated?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have gone over the lease agreement and did not find any provision for disputes are to arbitrated.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It has the following clause:
11.3 Governing Law. This Lease shall be governed in all respects by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of Washington.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My expectation is as follows:1, Do I have right to ask for the details of the charges being demanded from me especially after the Lease was terminated with full settlement 7 months ago? I have been asking this info and they sent me a sheet which shows amount by each month for all the tenants. The sheet does not explain why amount is different in each month and what formula has been used to calculate those amounts.
Moreover the total of amounts by month does not match with the amount they have asked me to pay i.e. $268.15.
I also would like to know what are my rights as tenant when the ex-Landlord or his agent try to destroy my credit history without justifying the charge being asked.
I have excellent record of payment with all my creditors and there is nil incidence of missed or delayed payment.
I had issue with this Property managers when they try to change the basis for payment of Utility charges. I objected since it was not as per lease.
After long communication, when they realize their mistake, the used another clause to amend the basis and provided 30 days notice. Basically they had to waive 3 month charge in the process.
I am referring this to let you know that the Property Manging Agent is very authoritative and try to do things as per their wishes and not as per the lease agreement.
They even don't have copy of my lease since the landlord signed lease before appointment of te Property Agency.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

Since there is no arbitration provision, heither party has the right to arbitrate any dispute. At this point it is up to the landlord take action to pursue any claim against you. You can contact the credit reporting agency that the claim of an amount due is disputed because the landlord returned your security deposit after deducting any claimed damages. Your position is the matter is settled. The credit reporting company will have to report the charge as idsputed. As for the landlord, you should simply notify him htat there has been settled and you owe nothing. If the landlord wants to pursue it he will have to go to court and at that time he will have to provide the justification for his position. If you deal with the credit reporting agency any other action up to the landlord not you aas he is claiming the money.

If I have answered all your questions, please positively rate my answer as that is how I receive credit. If you have more questions, please let me know. If the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for partially response to my question.
I have taken all steps as suggested you since this dispute is on going since March 2015.
Initially, they didn't respond to my communications.
Later in May 2015, they reported the amount to Experian as 'Collection' which means a negative remark on my credit history.
I tried to approach couple of time to Experian with the full explanation, however they didn't accept to remove the negative remark.
I wrote to the Property Managing company to remove the remark. Their response was - If you pay full amount as requested they will get the remark removed as if it was never there.
I have been asking legitimacy of the amount being demanded and for that I have no reply.
They just keep repeating that next month the amount will be sent to the collection agency.
I have also raised how come I am being charged after the lease termination.
They said that they can ask for the charges within one year of the lease expiry, while there is no mention of this in the lease.
I am seeking legal advise and you just reported that I will have to go to the court.
I need to understand if I should report the matter to any government agency when I feel that I am being harassed and not being provided information for which I have RIGHTS.
I no longer live in WA and have moved to NH (New Hampshire). Do I have to file court case in WA?
Is there any smaller court which deals with smaller amount of dispute like less than $500?I need specific advise and happy to share all the communications I had with the Property Agency so far.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

If the credit report has not corrected the companies bad information which is what I understand from your post, then you can sue the landlord for damages in small claims court where you do not need a lawyer. Once you get a successful resutl in small clams court then you can use the court decision to require that the negative entries in your credit reports be deleted.

If I have answered all your questions, please positively rate my answer as that is how I receive credit. If you have more questions, please let me know. If the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Once again, I am unclear how does Small Claim Court works?
Do I need to file a complaint there?
Or it is the job of Property Managing Agent or the Collection Agent (which they will assign) should file a case in the small court?I am not sure if you have fully understood my case or just reporting on the basis what I typed here.
I am expecting you to counter question me and provide sincere legal advise whether I am wrong in holding their payment or they are demanding illegally i.e. beyond the lease expiry?
I also questioned what are my rights when someone demands a payment from me?
Should I not be given full details of the calculation and basis etc. or just saying that I owe them $268.15?
This is looking bizarre to me and I am confused on all these points and that is why I seek your advise.
I need guidance then only I can say that I received legal advise.....
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

The only option available to the landlord is filing a complaint in cocurt, small claims or a higher court. The other thing they do is negatively reporting your credit. If you do not care about the credit reporting issue you do not need to do anything. If the landlord does not file suit they will never collect what they claim you owe. If you want to challlenge the credit reporting, you would file suit for the false reporting on the credit report.

If they have not satisfied you that you in fact owe them anything, and you do not have to file any suit. Just because the leae expired and they returned the security deposit does not prevent them from claiming additional damages if they could not reasonably have discovered them at the time they repaid the security deposit. It would be their obligation to show both that you owe the additional money and they could not have known it at the time they repaid the security deposit.

If I have answered all your questions, please positively rate my answer as that is how I receive credit. If you have more questions, please let me know. If the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Now, we are getting closer to the issue.
The point relating to false reporting to Credit Bureau is clear, however it is very hard to convince third party regarding our dispute between the landlord agent and that too after the lease is expired.
Basically, Experian don't wish to take any trouble though I have submitted all the documents proving that we are in dispute.Regarding, the claim of additional amount due to error reported by the City Of Redmond has 2 parts:a. Landlord was reported in May 2014 that there has been error in the main meter and was being read as 10,000 cubic feet instead of 1000 cubic feet. I had separate water meter in my apartment and that was read and reported while charging me monthly utility charge. I don't understand how I am responsible for their wrong readings on the main meter managed by City of Redmond.
b. My lease was terminated on Aug. 2014 and settled with refund on Sep. 29. This means they had 4 months to ask for any additional charges. While they demanded on 03/17/2015, which is over 7 months. I need to understand the implication of this in my favor. I am also not sure if they can demand additional charges until ONE YEAR of lease termination. This was quoted by their AR Specialist in the last email and it has not been mentioned in the lease agreement. Is this applicable or valid claim?
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

If the dispute is about someting for which you were separately metered and paid to the city directly, then you would have any resonsibilty for any other charges the landlord had. If the utility charge was a passthrough to you based on what was being charged to the landlord, the landlord would have more than a year to seek to recoup any under charge it made based on the town charges assuming the town was coming after the landlord for the undercharge. Since I do not know the details of your precise situation I cannot say what situation applies. If I have answered all your questions please rate my answer great service as that is how I gdet credit.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I would think that I was charged based on consumption on my meter (installed within the apartment) and that is what has been stated on each every monthly utility bill. However, the landlord might be calculating the multiplying factor based on total consumption in the building. They need to take gallons used multiply with rate factor to arrive a dollar figure.
This calculation was being shown on the monthly bill, however I have not been provided any calculation whatsoever for the additional charge.
They just submitted a statement asking $268.15 and attached sheet showing monthly amount for every apartment unit in the building. The total for my apartment for 18 months shows $371.10 while they have demanded $268.15.
I have asked them several times, how they have arrived at $268.15 and did not get any answer.
I am actually disputing the wrong calculation and NO details of the calculation.
I would expect them to multiply each month consumption with a factor like they did in previous bills.
Most likely they don't have record of my monthly consumption or may be dumb guys not understanding my point of dispute.With this additional information, please advise what stand I should take when I will be approached by the collection agency?Do I challenge the charges are outside the lease term? As per your statement above, it seems they have one year to claim undercharged amount.Do I keep repeating that I have not been supplied detailed information regarding calculation of $268.15 (amount being demanded)?
I think that if my purpose of challenges is not correct then I might be asked to pay interest on $268.15 plus cost of the collection agency fees.
I need to understand which one is my firm stand and appears strong and rightful.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

If you were billed based on a meter, then I do not know on what basis there were be a "factor" to multiply by. Any such factor would have to be reflected in your lease. I would take the position you were billed based on your meter and there is no other charge due. It is not about a calculation. Also, the statute of limiteations on a contract dispute is loinger than a year, it is six years. There may be a different period if the dispute arises from a utility charge from the utility company. Please do not forget to rate my answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your help. It is too late for me and I need to get up early in the morning.
I will go through all the conversation notes we had today and might need some more clarification.
I will post my question by tomorrow evening eastern time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will certainly rate you after our final points are cleared. My aim is to find out on what basis I can continue this dispute and get :
a. Negative remarks removed since it was unjustified when we are in dispute.
b. If I have to pay then I would pay only the actual amount due and not any interest or fees for the collection since we have been in dispute.
Hence, it is important for me to understand what is the strong legal point in my favor and the rest of them I can raise and drop.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 1 year ago.

Your legal position is that you were separately metered and paid the bills based on that metering. There is no other "factor" to apply to those charges as none is provided for in the lease. The collection agency will rather settle than go to court so it will be easy to just pay just what is owed without interest. They will have a difficult time proving you owe anything.