Apartment Community Guaranteed Heating and Cooling Cost I recently completed a…

Apartment Community Guaranteed Heating and Cooling Cost
I recently completed a short term rental lease (7months) on a brand new apartment while my new home was being built. Outside the complex was an enticing sign that said, “VA Power presents $1.oo a day heating and cooling costs guaranteed by Comfort Home of Virginia.” We signed a lease and moved in December. January was one of the coldest and snowyest on record. I soon found my electric bills to be as high as my former(much larger)home. I approached the site manager on many occassions, even giving her copies of my power bills. She could offer
no explaination, only that she would pass it along to the complex owner. She did send a maintenance person once who said the themostat may have been installed slightly tilted which may have had an effect. They told me it would go back to the subcontractors. Bottom line–we moved out and nothing was done. I have called Comfort Home. They said that the heating/cooling cost were based on an averaged determined from a controlled study and what the owner chose to do with the info was his affair so far as advertising. VA power said the kilowatt usage was estimated very, very low in the controlled study and not realistic at all.

One thought on “Apartment Community Guaranteed Heating and Cooling Cost I recently completed a…

  1. Re: Apartment Community Guaranteed Heating and Cooling Cost
    Advertising is a tricky thing. Sure, you could file suit for the amount of money it cost you in excess energy costs on a theory of breach of warranty, but it’s probably not worth the trouble and aggravation. Another problem is that you’ve got a maze of finger-pointers to wade through, from Va Power to Comfort Homes and all their respective subcontractors, and the whole lot will say it’s not their fault, it’s someone elses’ fault. Kind of like the Ford-Firestone thing; each points the finger at the other and feigns innocence. You’ve got to find out who had that sign put up (which may be pretty tough, too) and get that person (btw, a corporation is a “person” at law). If you want to prove fraud, you’ve got to be able to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that they knew AT THE TIME they put the sign up that they had no intention of actually guaranteeing that you’d have $1/day energy costs. Under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, you may have a claim, since it doesn’t require proof of actual fraud, just that a statement was false or misleading. It’s my opinion, though I’ve had judges disagree with me on this, that all that’s required is that the statement be such that the average consumer would tend to be deceived, not even that anyone actually was deceived. Note that real estate brokers are exempt from the Consumer Protection Act – I suppose that they’re free to lie, cheat and steal all they want, ’cause they’ve got a strong lobby in Richmond. Problem with that exemption is that it’s a status thing not a function thing – real estate brokers are exempt, even if they’re selling used tennis shoes (or renting out their own property as a landlord).

    Daniel Hawes
    Hawes & Associates
    6835 Chestnut Oak Lane
    New Baltimore, VA 20187

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