LIFE UNIVERSITY as a full time entrepreneur has yet to reach three months and I already conducted my first lease audit. While it didn’t come in the likeliest of fashions, I’ll take it 😊.
The beach “adjacent” (Sidebar: I really love that word ha!) apartment I rented for a month came to its expiration and given such, I was to be refunded my security deposit totaling $60. When I requested the reimbursement, I encountered resistance. The owner mentioned that I had to pay for the electric costs totaling $70 and with the security deposit offset, I still owed $10. The matter now required additional research as she was attempting to pocket me for a few Andrew Jacksons.
On goes my lease audit cap…TIME TO GO TO WORK!
When I moved into the place, I distinctly remembered the owner stating electric was included in the base rent and I would only have to pay for excess usage. We noted the current reading of 8,250kwh and after reviewing my lease, I saw that excess usage was deemed to mean daily consumption exceeding 10kw. The owner really meant 10kwh but we’ll get to that in a sec.
The owner was firm in her position and replied that the end reading was 8,548kwh making the total consumption 298kwh. The electric cost was $70, thus leaving a balance due of $10.
The owner obviously didn’t realize this is what I DO! You’re in for a HUGE surprise if you think you’re going to beat me at a lease audit surrounding electricity. These are my two specialties.
Below was my response to the owner:
“The rental agreement states that electric is included in the rent at 10kw per day. 10kw per day equals 240kwh so I'll take the 10kw as an error on your behalf and agree that you intended 10kwh.
I stayed in the apartment for 31 days. 31 days multiplied by the daily kwh rate of 10 equals 310kwh. 310kwh is the electrical allowance per the temporary agreement. My allowance plus the start reading (8,250 + 310) totals 8,560. The current reading of 8,548kwh is 12kwh short of 8,560kwh which means I should not pay an electric surcharge and am to be refunded the entire deposit amount.”
Thereafter the owner went mute for a day. I sent a follow-up email advising my await of her response. A few hours later, I received a message stating that “when the guest stays more than 1 month in the property, it is charged the light without the discounts of 10 kws a day.”
The lease did not say such and clearly expressed that “the cost of the electrical consumption is included in the rent, but if the consumption exceeds the normal consumption of 10kw daily, the lessee will have to pay for the excess.”
The owner was attempting to remix the signed agreement and I refused to spend more time clarifying a lease that they presented.
On to VRBO.
I made a complaint about the matter and the problem was soon resolved with the owner agreeing to refund me the security deposit in full.
The dispute should have been solved quickly as the text was in plain English. There was none of that creative legal jargon that can be perceived differently from opposite ends of the table. With that said, it never amazes me on the corners humans will cut to avoid payment of written terms.
All in all, a WIN is a WIN and I’ll take it. $60 is a small sum but it’s just the start. In a few years, they’ll be several zeros after that “6.”