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My lease expired several months ago and I just received a bill via email from my old apartment complex for unpaid utility charges. Apparently my gas company started billing me for service the day after my move-in date, so there was one day of gas service that was billed to the property management company instead of me.

I lived in that apartment for over a year and never heard anything about this. The charge didn't show up on any of my monthly bills and I have a copy of my account statement on move-out showing all charges paid with zero balance remaining. The new bill has a due date set a year and a half ago.

The bill claims I owe approximately $2 for gas use and $50 for a "gas cost recovery fee" that isn't mentioned anywhere in the lease. I do feel morally obligated to pay something, but this charge is more than most of my monthly gas bills. Additionally, I'm worried that if I pay this bill it sets a precedent for the company to be able to go back and find other things to charge me for.

Is this charge legal in Georgia?

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Is this charge legal in Georgia?

No. It seems unlawful.

First, it appears that the landlord was negligent and failed to mitigate damages. Since in general utilities are billed monthly, it is unreasonable for the landlord to have waited this long for a $2 charge that occurred on the first day of your tenancy.

Second, legislation typically sets a deadline for a landlord to send a former tenant an itemized bill to cover for damages other than normal tear and wear. According to O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34(a), that deadline in Georgia is 30 days.

Whereas the $2 charge is right (at least from a moral standpoint, as you mention), the $50 surcharge is devoid of merit.

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