Sunday, July 27, 2008

When enforcement of "the legal thing to do" is not the same as "the right thing to do"

"They know we're going to fight for their freedom and they don't want to try and help us at all with the situation."- Chessa Horvath



While the government poises to bail out those "homeowners" who made bad decisions, here we have a Texas couple who have been called up by the Texas National Guard to serve a second tours of duty in Iraq. So how are they being treated for the noble act of serving their country? They were forced to pay for breaking their apartment lease. They shipped out last Saturday.

The story:

Army couple upset over apartment lease fees


(Created: Thursday, July 24, 2008 9:14 PM CDT)


Horvaths said they found out they were charged early move-out, maintenance fees during week of deployment to Iraq

BY DANNY GALLAGHER, McKinney Courier-Gazette

Chris and Franchesca Horvath, both of whom are sergeants in the Army National Guard, will ship out to Iraq Saturday to serve their second tours of duty.

Less than a week before they are scheduled to ship out, they had to pay a much smaller price for their service.

The Horvaths lived at the El Lago Apartments on Craig Drive since August 2007 on a year-long lease. Chris and Franchesca were called back to active duty in Iraq and had to break their lease early, something a previous manager said wouldn’t be a problem and that they wouldn’t have to pay any early moving fees.

Always wise to get such agreements in writing.

When Chris checked back with the apartment earlier this week, he said he was told he owed the complex money for early termination, cleaning and maintenance fees.

“They pretty much got us and we can’t do anything,” Chris said. “We just wanted to make it known that we don’t think it’s right and we don’t feel like we were being treated right.”

Chris said he and his wife first received orders from the military in the middle of April that they might be deployed a second time after serving their first tour more than three years ago. Chris said he went to Iraq and his wife served in Afghanistan as a medic. Chris said he could not say where he would be deployed or what his duties will be when he gets there.

Chris received his orders at the beginning of May that he would have to report to duty for training in Fort Polk, La., in two weeks and would have to move out of his apartment early to prepare for his deployment. A manager named “April” told Chris that she would be able to get him out of his lease without any problems as long as provided military documentation to back up his claim. Chris claims he paid April the rest of his lease and was told he would receive half of it back once the paperwork cleared.

Chris and Franchesca left for their training and were relieved on July 2. They took the time off to visit with family and friends in Louisiana and East Texas before their deployment.

He claims he never received a notice or a letter concerning unpaid debts from the time he left the complex until Thursday.

“We went in yesterday (Thursday) to find out where our check was from the rest of our rent check,” Chris said. “They ended up telling us we owed them $200 and they kept the whole month’s rent because we didn’t give them 30 days notice. All I had was two weeks before I had to leave [in May]. I couldn’t give them 30 days.”



He went to the complex to ask about his lease and found a new person sitting in the manager’s office. April had left the company after he left the complex.

He said the old manager claimed it wouldn’t be a problem, but the new manager produced a letter from their corporate office saying April did not have the authority to do that.

“They showed us a letter that [April] wrote to the corporate office asking if she could do that after I had already left and they responded back no, that it’s against corporate policy,” Chris said. “There was no notification. We’re sitting here during the last 20 days at home with our family waiting to see if we would get that check. Now we’re getting billed $200.”

Chris said it would have been difficult to handle credit issues while they were on tour had they not paid the amount that was due.

“Where we’re going, there is no internet access,” Chris said. “We can’t call the credit bureau and explain to them what happened over the phone. We were left with no options. We didn’t want this on our credit. We want to buy a house so we can’t have bad credit when we get back.”

Chris and Franchesca said they paid the money the complex claimed they owed and consider the matter closed, even if they don’t agree with how it ended.

“Had we not paid it, it would have gone to creditors,” she said. “It’s just not right that they don’t contact us.”

Officials at the El Lago Apartments declined the opportunity to comment.
Can anyone dig up a contact number for El Lago Apartments? They should be publicly shamed and raked over the coals for how they've handled this situation.

Hat tip: Bloviating Zeppelin

Labels: ,

8 Comments:

Blogger Gayle said...

Yes, they should indeed be publicly shamed, Wordsmith. El Lago is an apartment community in McKinney, TX. Here's the url to the website: Http://www.apartmentratings.com/
rate/TX-Mc-Kinney-El-Lago.html

There's a comment section on that website and many people are unhappy with their policies.

Here's their contact information:

3400 Craig Drive
Mc Kinney, TX 75070
972-569-6700

Monday, July 28, 2008 8:51:00 AM  
Blogger airforcewife said...

There is a law that states that military under orders can break a lease without penalty. We've had to use that twice in hubby's career. And most certainly an apartment complex in TEXAS of all places would be aware of this.

These two need to see a JAG.

Also, letting El Lago apartments know about their idiocy doesn't hurt. :)

Monday, July 28, 2008 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

These two need to see a JAG.

That's what I was thinking. Poking around, I was coming across info that seems to indicate there is a Tx law directly related to this circumstance.

Monday, July 28, 2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

The law shouldn't really be the driving factor here. This was downright sleazy and they need a public outcry to make them pay financially for this. Hopefully this has made the local news and this will be a very expensive $200 for the complex.

Monday, July 28, 2008 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

I looked at the website that Gayle listed, and one of the comment responders quoted from his lease (he lives at the same apartment complex), and it has the Texas law written in about deployments. He said that the lease clearly states that after 30 days the balance will be settled. Since it's only been a week or two, all this uproar may be unfairly sliming a potentially reputable business.

Monday, July 28, 2008 6:15:00 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thank you sir. There still exists RIGHT and WRONG -- despite the law. As I was taught from as an early academy recruit:

There exists the LETTER of the law.
There exists the SPIRIT of the law.

And sometimes you have to choose between them.

BZ

Monday, July 28, 2008 8:00:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Tried to post my outrage but they wanted me to sign up to their sight. Some vet over there trying to blame the couple. My guess it's some management hack instead.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

The Free Market is not big on 'heart'...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 3:07:00 PM  

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