Friday 1 April 2016

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Who should pay?

Last year around February I was in debt and my car loan was in arrears. I however refused to give up my car to the bank but anyway I managed to pay off the loan. Before we paid off the loan we got a settlement statement from the bank which we were also told that it includes the fees for the company that was initially appointed to collect the car. We proceeded to make that transfer and cleared of the loan. Now here is the tricky part. Last month I was called by the people from the company saying that they never received any payment. I'm just wondering who is at fault here, because honestly we don't have any contract with them. I just feel maybe it was the bank's responsibility to give them their share since we paid them a lump sum.

Firstly, you have my admiration for the way you handled this situation. Despite having obvious financial difficulties you stuck up for your rights and fought to pay off the car loan, including the extra fees charged by the company that the bank engaged to repossess the car.

I agree with you. The bank needs to sort this problem out. You had an agreement with the bank to repay your debt, including the extra fees, and it’s them to which you gave the settlement amount. It’s their job to resolve it.

We’ll contact the bank for you and see if they can’t sort this out.

Must I pay the levy?

I am having difficulty getting my landlord to pay me back my security deposit. I moved into a company house in December 2014, my tenancy period was exactly a year. When I moved into the apartments I was helped by an agent from the property managers. Before I moved in the house I had requested to see a lease agreement upfront but I was told the lease will come after, I thought it was strange for me to pay and see the lease after, so I called head office in Gaborone and they confirmed I will get the lease after payments. I paid and I moved into the house with base rent of P2,500 and security and garden levy of P485. There were some discussions going on about the levy, so I asked the agent and he told me not to pay the levy, its still being revised and I will be notified whether to start paying or not. After 6 months of having been in the house, I get an email from the property manager that says I owe them the levy to which I replied as per my agreement with the agent, that I have been waiting to be told to pay, and I can’t now be told I owe them the said fees. The agents did not get back to me until after I moved out of the apartment in December 2015. When I asked for my security deposit, I was told I owe then and I cannot be paid my security deposit.

Its been three months now, and I am the one following up the issue, the said companies have basically left me to sort the issue out. The property managers are no longer managing the property and as for the agent, I don't know his whereabouts.

As a consumer I feel taken advantage of. My rent was always on time, but now I am told I am in debt.

I am very suspicious about you not being given the lease agreement. That’s not normal and it’s not right. You should never move into a property and you shouldn’t pay rent until you have seen the lease agreement, fully understood it and signed it. Verbal agreements are worth the paper they’re written on.

As you said, you were told that there was a levy of P485 in addition to the rent and you did consume the security and garden services while you stayed in the apartment. I don’t think you can argue that you shouldn’t pay it, even if some guy with no real authority told you not to. These things should have been put in writing before anything else. The security deposit you paid is there for two reasons: to pay for any damage to the property that you didn’t fix and to cover any shortfall in the rent. I suspect that the landlord is entitled to withhold the levies you owe from the deposit. Unfortunately, 12 months of levies will exceed the P2,500 they have. They might even ask you for more.

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