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We used to pay our utility bill to a 3rd (actually 4th)

Hello,We used to pay our...
Hello,We used to pay our utility bill to a 3rd (actually 4th) party billing company as it is stated in our lease. The lease also states that rent payments may be used by the landlord to pay any utility payments that are past due before applying the payment to rent, unless it is specifically directed/written which debt the payment is to be applied to.
The lease also states that the billing company will charge us $9 for late payments. Additionally it says that our landlord can charge us $75 for late rent payments paid after the 5th.In June, the landlord changed the arrangement with the billing company for all 300+ tenants, where now we are to make payments written out to our landlord for our utilities. I was told a notice was sent out in April, however I did not receive any notice about this.When I was paying the billing company for our utilities, I had set up automatic payments to be charged to my credit card each month. But when it switched over in June, the billing company disabled all of the tenants ability to pay them through their website, and now says to pay directly to our landlord. I only became aware of this a few weeks ago, assuming that utilities were continuing to be billed to my credit card. The landlord is now saying I owe them $75 for each month since June because of the unpaid utilities.My question is since the lease we signed states that late utility payments will incur a late fee of $9, and not $75, do they have the right to change the terms of our lease like that without having us resign or agree to it?Thank you for your time and your help. A direct and thorough answer will receive 5 stars. Thank you.
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Answered in 2 hours by:
9/22/2017
barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 40,057
Experience: Attorney over 17 years, landlord 26 years
Verified

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I type out an answer or reply.

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You may also be offered a phone call, but those don’t come from me and are offered by JustAnswer. If you have requested a phone call with an attorney, your request will post to other experts that do offer this service. When another attorney accepts your request you will get additional instructions.

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Can you tell me what state this is in?

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Are you still under a fixed term lease or are you month to month?

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Did you review your credit card bills to see that the utility payments weren't being charged to you?

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thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Hi Barrister,I live in California. San Diego County, specifically.Yes we are still under a fixed lease term.I was reviewing my credit card bills but usually I just scan for charges that I dont recognize, and not charges that do not appear on the bill.If I can provide any further details or information, please let me know. Thank you so much! I look forward to reading your response.

Ok, if you are under a fixed term lease, then the landlord is simply out of luck here in changing any of the terms of the lease until it expires.. That is the entire point of a fixed term lease...to set the parties' respective obligations in stone until that lease expires.

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So the landlord has no legal authority to change anything at all related to your lease unless you actually agree to do so.

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My question is since the lease we signed states that late utility payments will incur a late fee of $9, and not $75, do they have the right to change the terms of our lease like that without having us resign or agree to it?

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No.....period. He can't until your lease expires.. So you can tell him that you will hold him to the written contract that you both agreed to.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister

barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 40,057
Experience: Attorney over 17 years, landlord 26 years
Verified
barristerinky and 87 other Landlord-Tenant Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you very much
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barristerinky
barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 40,057
40,057 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Attorney over 17 years, landlord 26 years

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