Residents say they're being deceived over rent payments


CONYERS, Ga.,None - Residents at a Conyers apartment complex said they're being charged excessive late payments for utilities and that the amount they owe doesn't add up, either.

Neighbors at the Lake St. James Apartments told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri they pay utilities directly to the complex, billed through a third-party company.

Recently, several of the residents said they have received notices saying they must pay hundreds of dollars or the complex will take legal action. But residents told Viteri the numbers don't add up.

"I want out of my lease because I don't want to deal with this anymore," said one resident, who did not want to be identified.

Residents showed Viteri the large bills. One was for $483, another for $679. The notices the tenants received said the rent is past due, along with $100 late fee. But neighbors said the charges are actually for utilities.

"When I took this to them and I took my proof of the rent being paid on time, then they turned around and said, 'That's your utility bill,' " the resident said.

But several neighbors told Viteri the amount is wrong and have they paperwork to prove it.

"When I received a bill this month, I paid that, and I paid this also in full," the resident told Viteri

One neighbor showed Viteri the ledger with check numbers for her utility payments. She said she made a payment each month, but believes she's carrying a balance of around $100, nowhere near the $700 she's told she owes.

Viteri talked on the phone with the regional property manager, who said the complex switched billing companies in March and that's led to some confusion.

"I think some of the balance due letters were incorrect and maybe some -- … I don't say maybe, probably some bills went out that were incorrect," another resident said.

According to the lease, late utilities are subject to a $25 fee. But residents believe the complex is taking rent payments and applying them to utilities, then charging $100, which happens to be the penalty for late rent.

"They should put that in writing for everyone to know and stop deceiving people," the resident said.

Several neighbors told Viteri the staff at the complex has threatened them with eviction over the disputed bills.

The regional property manager told Viteri the complex has a balance of thousands of dollars in utility bills owed by some residents, but that the complex is willing to work with each one individually to get on the same page.

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