Do you have any advice for writing a letter to a landlord about breaching your lease?

My lease states that all tenants are supposed to put ALL utilities in their name. Later on it states that if we don’t pay our utilities on time and the landlord ends up paying them, we will receive a warning. Second offense results in a $50 fine. That’s all it says about utilities.

About a year ago my landlord took the water bill for everyone in the complex out of their names and put them in the names of the landlord and her husband. She then added her own extra fees, which included fire hydrant fees, storm drain fees, and the building’s water usage. She split these amongst all of the tenants. The Consumer Protection Agency and an attorney both told me that this is illegal. The attorney, who was just giving advice, told us to first compose a letter asking for a refund for the overcharged utilities. Everybody in the complex wants me to write the letter. The attorney wouldn’t take part in the letter writing without pay.

So any advice on what I should say in this letter? The attorney told me to have our totals on the letter and for us to demand she return us our overcharged utilities. But he didn’t elaborate.
What’s a good amount of time to give the landlord to respond with a refund? Any special wording or any good websites out there about this matter that I should know about?
Kelle: Actually I’m just about done getting the totals. Most of the people in this complex have been living here for 10 to 20 years. We’re all very close. I just want advice on the letter, that’s all.

Posted in Landlord Tenant Law.

2 Comments

  1. That’s why you pay the attorney. Figuring out how much water refund each tenant deserves is a huge job.

  2. Open with a summary. The subject of the letter (water bill and related charges), intention of the letter, etc.

    Include specific dates and clauses from the lease. Quote the lease exactly as the relevant text appears. Then be very specific about violations of the lease, such as extra charges and whose name the bill should be in. Even if something may seem obvious, still include it because the document may end up in court.

    Keep it clear, concise, and avoid accusations that cannot be clearly supported by facts included in the letter. Keep the tone neutral as much as possible to avoid coming off as confrontational. After all, the goal is to solve a problem, not cause a fight.

    Demands are good, but as with accusations, keep to what you can support.

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