September 26, 2023 at 9:29 am

‘Most definitely fraud.’ These Tenants Taught Their Landlord A Lesson After They Were Significantly Overcharged

by Matthew Gilligan

Source: Reddit/AITA/iStock

Lazy landlords are just THE WORST.

They don’t do what they’re supposed to, they ignore calls from tenants, and they most definitely screw people over.

So how did this Reddit user deal with the folks who ran their apartment complex?

Check out what they had to say in the story below.

Don’t make your tenants do your job for you, it can and will backfire on you.

“Some important backstory – I (27F) live in an apartment complex that has recently (as of June of 2023) been bought by a new management company.

My best friends (Cole 30M and Phoebe 29F) also live in the complex, on the other side. Over the course of the new management’s reign, they disabled the resident and rent payment portals we all were using and swapped us over to new portals. I don’t know what exactly happened, but it took over a month to get the new portals working which was a nightmare, but I digress.

On 8/2 I went to pay my rent through the new payment portal. As I always do, I checked the breakdown of what my utilities were (usually this is water, trash, sewer, CAM fees, and the tech package the complex includes), since we’re charged based on usage.

I’ve been in the apartment I’m in now since September of 2022, and prior to this I lived in the complex in two other units for a combined time of around 3 years. Needless to say, I’m very familiar with what my utilities should look like in this complex – specifically the water bill.

Much to my surprise, and confusion, my water bill was 91$. Usually, it’s around 30-40$. I understand increases happen, but usually I see them towards the beginning of the year, and it’s never this much of an increase. Immediately, I emailed the front office to kindly ask what the **** was going on.

The front office’s assistant manager told me that it was the water district that made the increase and that the complex had nothing to do with it and they weren’t able to do anything about it. It was a very “don’t shoot the messenger” type response. This didn’t sit right with me, so I called my friends who live on the other side of the complex to see if they’d seen a similar increase.

After they checked their bill breakdown, they let me know that their water bill was double what it usually was at $120. They also reached out to the office, and were told the same thing. Cole pressed further, asking if the front office was going to further investigate this, since it seemed odd for a building increase to be happening in the middle of the year, let alone this much of an increase, and the front office told him he could research it, but that it wasn’t their job. (Even though it literally is.)

Cue Malicious Compliance.

Cole is a very thorough person. He’s a data analyst. Asking and answering all the questions is what he does, and let me tell you he’s VERY good at it.

Cole reached out to the water district AND the water authority in our region multiple times via phone, email, and live chat, and every single time he was given the same answer. “We would never raise water rates in the middle of the year, and it would never be by that much. Your complex is lying to you, something isn’t right. They need to investigate this further.”

He took all this information, and compiled an email to send to the front office management, going as far as to cite the Meeting Minutes from the water authority in regards to their plan when it comes to water price increases over the course of the next few years.

Cole also included some other concerns we’ve all had in regards to the complex, such as gym and pool access, as well as the constantly broken access gates.

During my correspondence with the Water District, I was informed by an employee by the name of Lisa that, “Our rates increased in January this year. We do not raise them in the middle of the year.” Given all the information above, I hope it becomes clear my concern as to the recent “increase” in our water rates. (Cole created graphs and datasheets to completely back up his findings.)

This data was prepared using the Ledger provided to me by the front office and can be replicated by your team for validation. Ultimately, my concern at this point is I am hearing conflicting information from The Complex as opposed to the Water District and its certified documents which I’ve attached for the office’s convenience.

On two occasions I have almost been struck by vehicles entering the exit gate. I believe the reason behind this is that no deterrents are setup to stop people entering through the exit gate. Inspection of the area shows that spikes were originally installed, but those spikes do not appear to be in place at this moment (This contradicts signage within the property that says that there is.)

My spouse (attached) had come to the front office about access to the Gym amenity. I am unaware of whom Phoebe had spoken to, but they had stated that they would need to setup the appropriate “account” to get us to access via a form of wireless locking mechanism. They had also mentioned that we should see this email in 1-2 days, it has been roughly 3 weeks.

He sent off his email, BCC’d me on it, and we waited. And we waited.

Eventually, Cole went back into the front office for some kind of update, and one of the front office workers informed him that he might be able to call our utilities company, UB West, for further clarification of what was going on.

So he did that.

And UB West confirmed that as of mid-July, they no longer have a contract with our complex. The plot thickens. Cole reached BACK out to the front office, and was told that our new utilities contract is with a company called Conservice.

So we called them. Conservice told us that they only started their contract with our complex on 8/1/2023, and they had no backdated information about any of our billing. So, we called UB West back to see if we could get our hands on backdated information. This is where things start to feel really, really fishy.

UB West escalated our contact up to the financial manager of the contract our complex had with them, and she had some very interesting information. She told Cole and I that she noticed the increase in the water bill, and that she told the leasing office manager (she name-dropped the office manager) that something was wrong and that legally she needed to start an investigation, and she never heard back. Not long after this, their contract was termed.

At this point, we were both feeling like real-life detectives. We looked into how the water bill is calculated and issued out to residents for the entire complex, and the more we looked into things the less things made sense with what the front office was telling us. The conflicting information was jarring.

At this point, the front office seemed to be getting very annoyed with our persistence, and they told us that if we should take our concerns up with corporate. So we did.

Cole reached out to corporate, and forwarded ALL of the information he had to them, along with the answers he’d gotten from the last time he’d gone into the front office to try to get some answers.

Sorry, I’m new and trying to figure this out. (When asked about the water bill.)

We don’t have access to this anymore. (When asked about my financial reconciliation concerns, showing I have overpaid the property ~>$2,000.)

We have a button that calls the police and our attorney on speed dial. (When I asked about a reason as to why an update wasn’t yet available)

Have you considered that your car being stolen was a test from God? (When my car was stolen from within the property)

We are working on security improvements, but corporate… (Whenever I ask about the gate, people hoping the gate, when a tenant was shot and killed on premise)

Corporate reached back out to him within 24 hours, and said that they would be investigating this, and the district manager called Cole personally after she was able to look into everything – and I mean EVERYTHING.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t on that phone call, so I don’t know exactly how it went, Cole called me the moment the call ended to update me on the situation.

The district manager started the conversation with a genuine apology, and she stated that the entirety of the leasing office staff had been terminated immediately. She apologized profusely about the manager having the audacity to suggest that Phoebe’s car being stolen was a test from God, and that that was simply unacceptable.

She also assured Cole that an appointment was made to fix the gates and have the exit spikes re-installed within the week, and that everything else would be personally investigated by her, including the water bills for ALL tenants in the complex.

She also stated that she had no idea that someone had been shot, or that Phoebe’s car was stolen, both of which should have been reported to corporate immediately and were not by the leasing office manager. Starting in a few weeks, we should be getting a whole new front office staff sent in directly from corporate.”

Check out what people had to say about this.

This reader said this reminds them of where they live.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another individual said this sounds like fraud.

Source: Reddit/AITA

And one Reddit user said doing this with the water bill was WAY too obvious.

Source: Reddit/AITA

I love when stories like this turn out in the tenants’ favor.

Well done, team!