Posted by Mark on June 26, 2000 at 10:38:00:
My girlfriend and I have been living in our apartment for about 9 months. When we moved in, we were supposed to have 2 cats, but one ran away before we moved. Our apartment does allow dogs and cats, but they charge a non-refundable deposit ($200 for cats, $400 for large dogs), and an additional monthly fee ($25). When we made out the lease, I asked if the pet fees were cumulative (ie: if we had to pay $400 and an additional $50/month), and was told that this would not be the case.
Recently, we got a dog. We didn't report the dog, mainly because I thought we didn't have to (I thought that the same fees would apply, since I thought (incorrectly, it turns out), that a dog weighing less than 60 pounds would fall into the same fee schedule (we wouldn't owe any extra money)). The office found out we had the dog, and sent us a bill for $400, plus $25/month for the few months that we had the dog. I disputed this, saying that based on the language in the tenant handbook, and based on the example of our cat pet addendum, we should owe only an additional $200, with no monthly fees (it is a $400 fee for dogs over 30 pounds, not 60). He said this was wrong. I asked to see the policy in writing, and he said that it was spelled out in the handbook (it is not. All the handbook states is that "Pets are allowed, but are limited to 2 pets/apartment. Nothing about the fees).
I asked around, and the couple across the hall from us have 2 dogs, but pay the single fee plus the single $25/month. Other residents payed $800 upon move-in, and pay $50/month extra. I gave him a check for $200, and told him that I considered the matter closed. He told me he'd sue me for the additional money, but that was over a month ago, and I haven't heard anything since.
Does anyone have any experience in this matter, particularly in Virginia? The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states that new rules and fees "...must be explicitly clear, must be applied to all tenants in the same fair manner..." The complex underwent a management change recently, and my belief is that the cumulative fee structure is recent.
Thanks in advance,
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