Hi Lifehacker, I have recently moved and my previous landlord has sent me a water bill. The real estate agent told me when signing my lease — and it is written in the lease — that I would not be charged for water until the owner fitted water-saving devices, which he never did. Do I still have to pay? Thanks, Dampened Enthusiasm
If there's a clear clause in your lease to that effect, paying should not be a requirement. Once a lease has been signed by both parties, everything on it becomes a legally binding contract. The landlord can't just change their mind about something without proper consultation.
Your first step should be to write a polite but firm letter to your real estate agent reminding them of the agreement that was stipulated in your lease. Quote directly from your own copy and include a photo of the relevant paragraph. We don't imagine they'll continue to pursue it when presented with this evidence.
If they still try to weasel out of the agreement, the next step is to contact the tenancy tribunal or union in your state. Below are some links to the organisations that can help you to settle the dispute, along with each state's tenants' union:
- NSW: NSW Fair Trading, Tenants NSW
- Victoria: Consumer Affairs Victoria, Tenants Union Of Victoria
- Queensland: Residential Tenancies Authority, Tenants' Union Of Queensland
- WA: Department Of Commerce, Tenants Advice Service
- SA: SA.gov.au, Tenants Information And Adovacy Service
- Tasmania: Consumer Affairs And Fair Trading, Tenants' Union Of Tasmania
- NT: Consumer Affairs, Tenants' Advice Service
- ACT: ACT Government, Tenants' Union Of ACT
For future peace of mind, bone up on this tenancy guide: it includes tips that will help you to avoid getting screwed over when renting an apartment. If anyone has additional advice to share, let DE know in the comments section below.
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