I blogged in the past about renting a beautiful apartment in Gurgaon, but it unfortunately hasn’t been all roses. I’m currently in a big dispute with my landlord, and the situation is quickly escalating.
The problem is due to the high cost of my electricity bills. My first bill was about 30,000 rupees, or about $450 USD. Frankly I wasn’t all that surprised. My flat is about 2000 sq ft and has 5 separate AC units. None of them work correctly. I also run an air purifier and there is a ceiling fan in every room. On top of this Indian homes are not insulated or very energy efficient. I have big gaps in the sliding glass doors where I can feel hot air pouring in. So, I assume these are all contributing factors to the high electric bills.
Fortunately, according to the lease the electricity bill payment is the responsibility of the brokerage company which services my apartment and is therefore considered the landlord. So I need not worry, right? Wrong! I received an email from them saying they believe the electricity bill is too high so they expect me to pay anything over 10,000 rupees, even though there is clearly no cap on the bill written into the lease.
I responded that I won’t pay it because the lease stipulates the responsibility is theirs. They in turn said they weren’t going to pay the bill at all. At this point I had to get my corporate attorney involved. He wrote them a letter pointing out the legalities of the lease as written and insisting that they honor the contract and pay the bill. They still refused, blatantly disregarding the clause in the lease.
He advised me that according to the lease I have the right to pay the bill personally and deduct the amount from the rent. So that is exactly what I did. A couple weeks later I get an email from the landlord staring they want to terminate the contract and evict me. This, in spite of the fact that we clearly have a 6 month “lock in period” which means that neither party can terminate the agreement for any reason. Our attorney responded in kind and now we are awaiting their response.
I am shocked at their total disregard of the contract, but I guess this is not unusual in India. My attorney says that many people and companies here just don’t understand the importance of following a contract. As a result, they just do whatever they want and the courts are swamped with such cases. He said that if they try to evict me they will have to go through the courts which will take months and my lock in period is up in September anyway. Meanwhile, my second electric bill was even higher than the first so we just continue to pay it and deduct it from rent. Regardless, it looks like I’ll be looking for new digs in September. There’s never a dull moment around here!