Disputing egregious charges

I got slapped with a $1000 invoice from my building’s architect for looking over some minor renovation plans a few months ago. I was not informed of this charge at any point in time other than one line in the building’s alteration agreement that said “building may employ an architect to review renovation plans at tenant’s expense.” Is there any legal statute under which I can dispute this charge as either excessive or illegal since I didn’t agree to it before it was assessed and was never informed of what their rate was?

I dont think so as its in your agreement that you signed. Sorry.

So you’re saying they could’ve charged me a million dollars if they wanted to and there’s nothing I could do about it?

Hey, can I come and take a look at your building too?

At a Mil you have a lawsuit, at 1K you dont. That clause most likely would hold up to immaterial/reasonable fees, but that is up to a judge to decide what reasonable is. I’m not a lawyer I just play one on the Internet.

So if they were to charge me $1 million and I wanted to dispute it, what statute would that fall under and where would I go, small claims court?

phew… dontcha hate those NYC Co-ops! how much is the co-op management company going to get back from the architect?

Can you post more details? Did he swing by and take a 10 minute glance at your plans? Did he pull out a tape measure? Did he have a tool belt on? I’m curious about what he really did that would justify such a fee. Expenses like these are common in hospitals where a random doctor will stop by a patients room, check the pulse, check for a fever, and be done in 60 seconds or less, yet still send that patient a bill for $100. Before my grandmother died, my family was furious at all these random doctors sending us bills. My family had enough of it and simply threw the stack of bills away. Ironically nothing more came out of it to my knowledge. This may be a similar ploy. He slapped you with a fee just to see if you’ll pay it.

I couldn’t pick the architect out of a line up because he’s never been to my apartment. He basically looked at a couple of drawings, traded a couple emails with me and the building management, and then typed up a $1000 invoice.

Co-op and condo management companies are notoriously entrenched bodies of waste, evilness, stupidity, etc. They hide behind lawyers and prey on homeowner fears. I owned a co-op in NYC for over a decade. As a co-op owner the best thing you can do is get on the board of the co-op and try to convince the other co-op members to boot out management. Replace them with a small, TRANSPARENT manager with no lawyers or bs.

If I were you, the first thing I would do it ask for a detailed invoice explaining each of the charges. Perhaps indicate you disagree with a few points. Test the water to see he responds.

That’s what I did. What if he responds with “tough sh!t”, what is the next step.

JohnThainsLimoDriver Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > That’s what I did. What if he responds with “tough > sh!t”, what is the next step. Reply with, “I’m not paying…tough sh!t.”

ask for a govt bailout.

If I was a BSD like JTLD. I would first try to bully my way out of the fee by explaining the aforementioned. If the architect replied with ‘tough sh!t’, I would then go to my Excel sheet and find an attorney in real estate. I would ask the contact/friend to send a nice letter to the architect explaining how disappointed JTLD is with the level of service rendered and fee expensed. Hopefully an email from a big name law firm will scare the guy away. But hold your firepower until needed. Try to get to the bottom of it yourself before escalating it.

Just dont pay it. You will find that with these kinds of things, they will keep sending warning notices of legal action, but at the end of the day, they wont follow through. Its just not worth it for them over such little amounts. This is certainly the way it is in australia. maybe US or canada wherever you are is very different. Having said that, evnre if they dont follow through, im not sure if somehting like this could be used against your permanent credit record, which could be a problem then.

I would generally dispute it forever, the problem is they billed the management company which is turning around and billing us. The management company has the right to cancel our lease and withhold our renovation deposit (several thousand dollars) if we don’t pay it. So basically the architect has no vested interest to cancel the charge since the management company already paid it.

I showed a friend of mine your problem(she’s an attorney who did high end real estate law here in NYC at one point in time), and she says you only option is the following: You can claim the charges are excessive by sending a letter to management. You can also claim that management didn’t notify you in advance that an architect was going to review the plans. had they of notified you in advance, you may not have bothered with the minor renovations above, etc. The best you can do is try to get the cost lowered. But, she says, 1,000 isn’t uncommon and not technically excessive and because of “building may employ an architect to review renovation plans at tenant’s expense.” (by the way, are any of those defined terms?) your pretty much screwed.

Thanks. I probably would’ve paid the charge up front anyways if they had told me about it first, but I have a real problem with them not notifying me beforehand and then slamming me with the bill after all is said and done.

The sith lords at that management company are skimming some of that $1000 fee… probably 25%.