Unlocking the Mysterious Lease: Your Guide to Apartment Utilities

apartment utilities
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Given that more people rent their dwelling now than any other time in the last 50 years, landlords hold an immense power in the current economy.

From added fees, taxes, to apartment utilities, landlords often attempt to pass their costs to their tenants to save money and increase profits. However, this isn’t always legal and often is unethical, especially if it deceives their tenants from paying what they assumed they would be paying.

Here are three questions to ask yourself if your bill seems higher than it should be.

1. Did You Agree to a Fixed Rate?

Your lease should have laid out exactly how much you’ll be paying every single month. Even the most stripped down lease will tell you what you’ve agreed to pay and under what circumstances.

If you got your rent bill and see all kinds of charges and fees, you might have to check whether or not this is legal in your region. Anyone who signs a lease agreeing to pay a fixed rate is only required to pay that rate. Landlords who ask for more are in violation of the law.

Pay the fixed rate that you agreed to. If you have time, seek out a lawyer who can help you. Ask around and look on message boards to see if this is standard or not.

2. What’s the Breakdown?

Check out the actual breakdown of your fees. In some cities and regions, tenants pay water bills on top of cable fees, gas bills, and electricity. In other regions, it’s standards to roll them all into the cost of rent.

New York City rents are often called some of the most expensive in the U.S. However, in most NYC apartments, heat and hot water are required to be provided by landlords no matter what. There are standard temperature requirements and calendar dates that they have to have heat running during.

Depending on where you live, those utilities should be rolled into your rent, not added on top of.

3. What’s Legally Required for Owners to Pay?

See what is legally required for your landlord to pay. If you’re being charged for trash fees, your landlord may be violating the law. Charging their carefully chosen tenants for something that they should deal with is unethical and should be reported.

Call 311 or your local tenant protection services if your landlord violates the law. They must be held accountable. You could be a hero to many of your neighbors for blowing the whistle on your landlord.

Never assume that you’re the only one being hit by a certain fee or an added cost. It’s likely that other people are dealing with it too.

Apartment Utilities Might Not Be Your Problem

In some areas of the country, apartment utilities are the domain of the owner of the dwelling. Rather than having tenants pay, cities and townships hold owners responsible for the costs incurred. If your rent bill seems higher than it should be, ask questions.

If you’re considering turning your home into an Airbnb, check out this guide to ensure you don’t become a bad landlord yourself.

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