Is my apartment breaking the lease agreements?
November 7, 2006 11:27 AM   Subscribe

What exactly are my rights as an apartment tenant in Florida (and as per the wording of my lease)? I'm being charged with a fee on my account, and I need some information.

Our apartment complex pays for $150 of our electricity bill, and each tenant (4) splits the remainder of the bill equally. I paid my rent of $510 on the 3rd, and then my check was returned on the 6th because I had not paid the full amount (unknowingly, I had not paid the additional electricity overage), and I was charged with a late fee of 40 dollars.
I never received a notice of the electricity charge. In our lease, it says,

"17 Notices: All notices or demands of any kind may be served on Lessee (as an alternative to personal services) by leaving a copy of such demand or notice at the apartment, or by mailing a copy thereof by registered or certified mail, postage prepaid to Lessee at the premises. Services shall be deemed complete at the time of leaving said notice or within 5 days of mailing the same."

Does this mean they either have to personally contact me, leave me a note in the apartment, or mail it to me? Currently they just drop them off (not mailed) in our group mailbox.

If that is the case, what recourse do I have, since they haven't been dropping them off at our apartment in about a year? I've been here 4 years, and the previous years they put them under the door.
posted by mhuckaba to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Have you talked to them? What did they say?
posted by smackfu at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2006

From a common-sense-point-of-view, yeah, you're right. If they're not letting you know how much to pay, then you have no way of paying the proper amount.

When you brought this up with them, what did they say? How do they expect you to know what the rent is going to be?

The section of the lease you quoted sounds like they're talking about serving a notice of payment / eviction / etc. I'm not sure that it applies in this case, but if it is, then yeah, they have to abide by the conditions they set out.
posted by bshort at 12:12 PM on November 7, 2006

They basically said that its too bad that I didn't know about it, I should have checked at the office first to make sure it was the correct amount, that we received a memo 2 months ago that we should check by the office to make sure it is a correct amount.
posted by mhuckaba at 1:03 PM on November 7, 2006

That's bullshit. I would refuse to pay the "late fee."

Point out the relevant section in your lease and tell them to get stuffed.

Also, keep a log of all your communications with them.
posted by bshort at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2006

Yep, I'd refuse to pay the late fee. I'm no legal expert, but I have lived in FL all my life and know that tenants have WAY more rights than landlords. It's a bad idea to even be a landlord in FL because they get screwed all the time. You can find landlord-tenant laws online (I imagine our good friend Google would be happy to point you right to FL's law). I *think* that there are specific laws that a written lease cannot alter, such as notices to tenants have to be displayed conspicuously if not mailed or something like that. If they try to take your deposit, fight it. Landlords always lose here from what I've experienced and heard.
posted by forensicphd at 3:46 PM on November 7, 2006

*Did* you receive a memo 2 months ago that you should check by the office to see for overage fees? If so, that seems like pretty reasonable notice... but it's hard to say if that satisfies the wording of your lease or not.

What day is your rent due? Presuming it was due on the 3rd, when you dropped off your cheque, they could have easily called you to inform you that there were overage fees required as well. Waiting until it was late (or did they return the cheque by mail?) is bullshit, and definitely makes the claim of validity on the late fee seem a bit suspect.

Of course, if the 3rd was already late, then I think you're out of luck on the late fee. :)
posted by antifuse at 2:20 AM on November 8, 2006

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