Woman calls 12 after heating issues at apartment costs her hundreds

Woman calls 12 after heating issues at apartment costs her hundreds

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Naomi Barrett of Richmond is piping hot about an over-inflated heating bill that she says her apartment management should pay. She claims her heating unit was busted for months, costing her hundreds of dollars, and she says the company's response is not enough.

"I just wanted the $100 that was added on to each one of my bills,"  Barrett said.

Barrett has lived at the Timbers Apartments in Richmond since February of 2015. She says back in November when it started getting cold, she tried turning on her heat and discovered a problem.

"I was having a really hard time getting hot air to come out of the vents, and if it wasn't on 80 or higher, it was blowing out cold air," Barrett said. "So I made multiple calls to maintenance, and they came out multiple times and did little fixes, and every time they told me it was gonna be fine now it was gonna be fine."

For months, she had to continue using emergency heat - where the thermostat had to be set at 80 degrees or higher to get any heat at all. She says her bill went sky high, estimating it cost her an extra $100 a month.

"It's never been $200 before, even with the air conditioner, and it was over $200 each month that I had to have emergency heat," Barrett said.

Barrett says her bills shot up between November and when it was finally fixed in February.

Here are some examples of the increases based on records we got our hands on:

  • From January to February of 2016, the bill was roughly $240. For that same period of time last year, it was less than $120.
  • For February of 2016, Barrett was billed for 2323 kilowatt hours. For February of 2015, she was billed for 781.

Barrett went to apartment management for reimbursement. She was asking for $400 - a hundred dollars a month for each month she says she dealt with the higher bills.

"And they kept putting me off, telling me, 'oh, we'll give you a reduction in your rent to make up for the emergency heat," and then they kept saying, "we'll take care of it, we'll take care of it,," Barrett said.

She says the company credited her account for $50.

"All the multiple phone calls and email messages and faxes and aggravation, they totaled it all up to be about $50," Barrett said.

That's when Barrett called 12 On Your Side. I reached out to the management company PRG. They bought the complex back in December.

A company official told me at that time of purchase there were no open work orders for Barrett's unit. They said she did submit one in January and the heating problem was resolved in February. They reimbursed Barrett for the overages they estimated she paid between January and February - $50.

As for anything that happened before they took over, the official suggested Barrett contact the former owners.

Barrett says she doesn't feel she's gotten a fair shake.

"No I do not, most definitely not," Barrett said.

Barrett is frustrated because she feels the current management company should have assumed responsibility for her situation in full when they purchased the property, but an attorney has advised 12 On Your Side, it depends on how the purchase was made.

When we reached out to PRG, a company official said they'd call Ms. Barrett again regarding this issue. So far, that has not happened.

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