Thursday, February 16, 2017

prorating rent scam

Renters, beware of the prorating rent scam. Here's how it works:

We signed a one-year lease for an apartment at Somerhill Farms apartments in Gainesville VA. The lease began on 2/15/16 and ended on 2/14/17.

We were told that we need a cashier's check for the first month's rent and the "amenity fee". The first month's rent is "prorated". Using "voodoo math", the property manager determined that our "prorated" rent for February 2016 was 51.7% of the monthly rent stated in the lease.

From March 2016 through January 2017 we paid 100% of the monthly rent stated in the lease--always before the rent due date.

On 1/25/17 we vacated our clean, empty apartment and turned our keys and parking passes back over to the property manager along with a half month's rent (50%) for the remaining half month (February 2017).

 But wait! The remaining rent should have been 48.3% of the monthly rent (100% - 51.7%).

When I called this to the attention of the property manager, she said "You paid $1543.10 but should have paid $1583.93. The correction was done in 2016 so we will leave that as is and eat the difference."

$1583.93?!? More voodoo math! Less the $500.00 "amenity fee" and $100.00 credit for the "reservation fee", this amounts to $1,183.93 (53.6% of the monthly rent) for the first partial month's rent in February 2016.

I tried to get the extra rent that we overpaid back from the property manager, including the following:

"Somerhill Farms chooses to stagger their lease start dates so that all leases don't expire at the end of the month.
Had our lease began on 2/1/16 instead of 2/15/16 and expired on 1/31/17 instead of 2/14/17 then our rent would have been 12 times $2,210.00, not 11 times $2,210.00 + $2,288.93.
Why should the customer pay additional rent for the same 1 year (12 months) period of time? Answer: the customer shouldn't." 

I finally gave up with the following:

"I regret that you are unable to see that prorating the rent doesn't apply in this matter; and, that we overpaid the rent. If SF, GH, etc. wishes to sue us for $9.39 then they can do so. However, be advised that we will sue SF, GH and possibly others who may get involved with this in the future, not only for the overpayment and for our expenses in dealing with this matter with you, and possibly with others in the future; but, we will also sue for larger punitive damages resulting from fraud, harassment, etc. This is my final word with you on this matter outside court."

(The $9.39 refers to the final water bill which the property manager was trying to collect despite the overpayment. Tenants pay their water bills to the property manager, and the property manager pays the water company.)

Renters, beware, of the prorating rent scam!

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