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Utility Bill Fraud? Arnel Management Co. California

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  • Utility Bill Fraud? Arnel Management Co. California

    Background info: Five years ago, I found myself unemployed after being laid-off. I was renting an apartment and I informed the rental management company that I was going to be about 10 days late with my rent, so they had me evicted.

    I had a rental agreement with them which was to expire three months later and I had provided a $1,000 security deposit when I moved in (which I never recived back or recieved any information about, of course).

    Here's the problem: I've received letters from them for years asking for various amounts of money, the early ones listed $4,000 and they have demanded as little as $1,500. Early on, I had asked them for a breakdown of why they thought I owed them this money (I knew that they had rented the apartment a month after I left), but they never complied, so I told them to take me to court, which they haven’t done – they just keep asking for money. I think one reason they haven’t gone to court is that I threatened to counter sue for the following reason: early in my residency I complained to them that the portion of the rental agreement stating that I would be responsible for the utilities was misleading and probably fraudulent because they verbally told me that I had to have the electricity turned on in my name (which I did). But after living there over a month, I received a ‘bill’ from a company called “Pacific Water and Power” for trash, water, and gas for a total of $45. I researched the company and found it was a company owned by the rental management company, not a real utility company. I told them I wouldn’t pay that bill because its items weren’t included specifically in the contract and the gas portion of the bill was not equitable because each building only had one gas meter for all the apartments each building contained. If there were 6 residents in just one of those apartments, I was helping to pay for their gas consumption for heating water. They stopped sending the utility bills to me after a time.

    Since the eviction, they have listed the money they’re asking for on my credit report and I’d like it removed. BTW: this company has been sued by the State of California for consistently not giving renters their deposits back and other practices, so they have a reputation for being bad rentors.

    What can I do? Can I sue them? Can I somehow get this ‘debt’ removed from my credit report (without giving them any money)?

    Thanks for any advice.

  • #2
    Go to your local library, to the reference desk and ask for Nolo Press' book on Tenant's rights. In California the landlord has 3 weeks after move out to either return your security deposit or give you an accounting of what they did with it. Nolo's book will explain all of that and how to sue them in small claims court. However, you said that they rented the apartment 1 month later - I'm not sure if, since they evicted you, you would owe rent for the time the apartment was vacant. The book should explain it all.
    I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.


    • #3
      Will do, thank you.


      • #4
        Refused to refund security deposit

        Hi, I have similar story and they refused to refund my security deposit and on top that they say that I owe them $500!!! ... anyway, contact me, mabye we can get other people together and file another class law suit.


        • #5
          I don’t see what the problem with the utility bill is. Under CA law if each unit does not have separate metering, then the landlord is allowed to make arrangements with the tenant for payment of the bill. Ownership of the utility co. is a non issue unless they are not a legal co.

          Where you aware that you were sharing meters with other tenants when you moved in? Did the lease specify what charges you would be responsible for?
          45.00 dollars for trash, water, and gas is quite a bargain. How much would you have paid somewhere else?

          In most states if you default on your rent payment the landlord is allowed to keep the deposit as damages. That will include the rent and cost of cleaning up. It may be that CA also has apt prep charges. Regardless you answers may lie in your lease agreement and the CA Tenant Landlord Act.


          • #6
            Thanks for your response. The rental agreement did not specify water, trash, and gas. It stated that I would be liable for the 'utilities' and that was explained to me as the electricity, which I'd have to put in my name. No mention was made of the other items, so I natually assumed that my rent covered all other expenses involved with the apartment, as had been done in my previous experiences. I didn't expect to receive a bill for these other items anymore that I'd expect to receive a bill for anything else releated to the upkeep of the aparatment. Otherwise, why not charge me for maintenence also? If the dishwasher breaks through no fault of my own or the roof needs new shingles, why should I pay for it?

            Based on this, I had no reason to wonder about whether I shared a gas meter with others. What seems unfair, aside from hitting me with a suprize bill after I've moved in, is that regardless of how many people use the gas, water, and create trash, the 'cost' is split equally between each unit. $45 per month for 1 person is high; it's a very good deal if 6 or 7 people share a 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom unit, as was the case in many of the apartments.


            • #7

              I too have a problem with ARNEL.

              when i came to check out their apt's I was told by the leasing person that If i signed a 1 yr agreement that i'd get a better price and even if I had to end my contract that If i gave them one month's notice I would be able to get out of the lease and they would rent the apt to someone else, well I left 2 days and 1 month early, today I get a collection notice from ARNEL saying i owe 9,000 dollars! WOW! are they crazy? I had numerous problems there from the water not working to it dying during a shower to water being cut off for a day w/o notice, they also told me the reason I was paying about 100 dollars more then other APT's is because I was going to have new appliances in the place...okay the dishwasher would come off its hole anytime you opened it and almost fall over on you, the stove was missing a burner and the other burners had paint stains on them which the first time i used the stove caused alot of smoke to come out of them ( and they were still there) and now the best part, the AC was OLD OLD OLD when i came to check out the apt and so i asked, oh are they replacing that too? and "YES, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE NEW" was what they said...ha they found a newer looking FACE for the AC and put it on which on the first day i was there FELL OFF and i saw that it was the same unit, full of dust etc. I then Emailed my manager and told her everything that was wrong with the unit, EVERYTHING....what did they do? NOTHING...did I ever get a reply? NOPE ZIP NADA...No one ever came to replace the missing stove burner, no one came to fix the Dishwasher that fell out of its hole when you opened it, no one replaced the AC with a new one, NOTHING. So I grew tired of this and told them I was leaving and now I get this HUGE RIDICULOUS BILL...yeah right, lets go to court and see what happens, any suggestions from any of you? or IDEAS? or ...anything?



              • #8
                oh yeah...

                oh yeah i just remembered this was about 6months into the contract, i just didint feel like i could live there anymore, not with the price they were charging me and the service i was getting, the pools, never cleaned EVER, oh wait the one by the leasing office, SPOTLESS nice huh?