What can I do if I hired a management company to lease out my property but have just now gotten a bill for an unauthorized expense?

I signed a contract that agreed to pay half of first month’s rent as marketing fee, and that repairs over $200 dmust require my consent. I got an email saying the representative no longer works there, and the person in charge called me to confirm contract is valid. When I asked about the previous tenant, they told me there are no damages, so I gave back the deposit. Now all the sudden I get hit by a bill for $1880 for a contractor who supposedly did repairs, cleaning, and repainting inside the house. I was never even told about this beforehand. It was listed under “prepping the property for rental.” And They want full first month rent, claiming it was verbally agreed on.

Asked on August 4, 2015 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written contract, as you indicate, you have to pay those expenses--and only those expenses--that are in the contract; and to hold you liable for them, the company would have had to provide any notices or get any consents required by the contract. Based on what you write, they would not seem to be able to charge you a $1,880 contractor/repair cost without first getting your consent, since it is over the $200 threshold; and they cannot ask for more than half a month's rent for marketing. 

A verbal or oral agreement will not overrule a written contract--changes to a written contract have to be made in writing. Therefore, the alleged "verbal agree[ment]" to a larger marketing fee would be ineffective. Based on what you write, they do not appear to have a legal basis for these charges.


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