Dear Fair Housing Lady: Manager Errors

| October 3, 2013 | 2 Comments

Manager ErrorsDear Fair Housing Lady:

The management office to the complex I live in CT. called me in to inform me I was paying too much rent. She wrote down on a sticky note that I had credit and should not pay the month of January, pay a portion of February until further notice of rent adjustment.I thought I may have payed twice one month by mistake without realizing. At the end of Feruary, I was called in again only to hear that they had made a huge mistake and I was to pay back rent but didn’t have to pay it all at once….I was upset but didn’t question it and so I added an extra $64 every month to my rent and sometimes less(whatever I could afford) Now I’m getting reminders of my balance and I see on the statement that I am being charged $10 for late payments? Is this fair when my intentions were to pay all along until they told me not to?
2- Also,on another note- I was called by phone and told to get rid of a 10 month old bling dog in which I tryed to explain that I merely was watching for a couple of days while taking to the vet for eye treatments and vaccinations, then return to a family member at the end of the week that lives out of state “She” said ok, yet still sent me a written warning. I also told her that my neighbors and other tenants have dogs for 2-5 yrs now. “She” said thats not true and that was that. I am not cruel so I can’t snitch on my neighbors. I just feel singled out and discriminated against. Please Nadeen, what should I do?
Thank you.

 

Hmmm, I am thinking that what is going on here is not necessarily discrimination, but rather an inept property manager.  Giving you a sticky note with information (which information turned out to be misinformation) is hardly professional.  But they are entitled to receive the actual rent that is due from you despite their ineptitude (and you have been making a good faith effort to pay that, despite being told at first you had a credit).  However, I do not believe that the late charges are appropriate, neither as a matter of contract or as to what is right.  You need to communicate with your manager (in writing, as lawyers will always tell you – and as I tell you, even if I am not your lawyer!) and tell them what you have told me: They made a mistake, you understand and respect that, you will pay ultimately pay all rent that you owe, but that you do not expect to be penalized with late charges for their mistake.
As to the dog issue, you explained to them that you are assisting a family member with some veterinary issues and that you do not intend to make the “guest dog” a “resident dog”.  They told you (verbally) that this is OK, based on your promise to return the dog to its owner at week’s end.  The warning letter was probably sent just as an SOP – they likely want to put you on notice so that if you do not actually return the dog, they can move forward more quickly.  As to the neighbor dogs, what might be going on with that is that those animals are service animals (perhaps comfort animals) and if that is the case, your landlord cannot tell you that because of fair housing and privacy laws. 
So as to what you should do, I believe you should do just what you have been doing and planning to do.  Catch up on your rent (but protest the late charges) and timely return the dog.  And at lease renewal time you may wish to consider a property manager who would appreciate you more than perhaps this one does.

 

 

Category: Property Managers & Owners

About Nadeen Green: Nadeen Green has been an attorney since 1979. She has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry since the Fair Housing Amendments Act when into effect in 1989. She has been asked to speak numerous times for the National Apartment Association and the Multi-Housing World annual conventions. Her reader-friendly articles on Fair Housing appear regularly in industry publications. Nadeen is proud to be Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions, which offers print and online advertising products for all communities, whether through For Rent Magazine®, ForRent.com, Para Rentar, Senior Outlook, After 55, or specialized publications for condominiums and student housing. .

Comments (2)

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  1. Jen says:

    Thank you for pointing out about the Service/Campanion Animal. We get so many residents who violate our no pet policy and then claim discrimination because their neighbors have a dog. We cannot legally disclose to them that they have a service/campanion animal due to privacy laws which is frustrating because we aren’t allowed to defend ourselves against their claims. I appreciate this being stated!

    • Theresa Grennan says:

      Most property managers do the best they can with the tools and time available to them. None the less, mistakes happen. I don’t think this property manager deserves the label “inept”. They made a mistake and took steps to correct it. Common sense would dictate that charging a late fee due to their mistake is wrong. Unless you live in a perfect world, moving from one apartment complex to another searching for that perfect world where no mistakes are made doesn’t seem practical to me. P.S. I’d like to visit someone in their perfect world as I have never been there.

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