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Hello,
I am currently on my year abroad in Lyon and myself and a friend are living in a modern apartment with a French girl. We let her deal with all the rent and bills etc. since she has already been living here a while but we are getting a little concerned about how expensive they are. The net total for rent is 1240 a month however, on top of this she is saying that the EDF is 120 a month, water is 60 and heating is an additional 50 on top of all that. This seems very excessive for a small 3 bedroom modern flat! A neighbour has also told us that usually water and heating is included in the rent.
Do these charges sound average? Or is there something fishy going on. We have never actually been shown a paper bill, our housemate says that she doesn't get them, which also seems a little unusual. We want to be certain that these are excessively expensive before we go confronting her about it.
Thank you :)
 

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Hello,
I am currently on my year abroad in Lyon and myself and a friend are living in a modern apartment with a French girl. We let her deal with all the rent and bills etc. since she has already been living here a while but we are getting a little concerned about how expensive they are. The net total for rent is 1240 a month however, on top of this she is saying that the EDF is 120 a month, water is 60 and heating is an additional 50 on top of all that. This seems very excessive for a small 3 bedroom modern flat! A neighbour has also told us that usually water and heating is included in the rent.
Do these charges sound average? Or is there something fishy going on. We have never actually been shown a paper bill, our housemate says that she doesn't get them, which also seems a little unusual. We want to be certain that these are excessively expensive before we go confronting her about it.
Thank you :)
Can you get sight of the leccy and water meters? If you can, take readings a couple of days apart, look up the tariffs on the respective web sites and do some number crunching.

Water IS often included in the rent (and often deducted from the deposit at the end of rental period), but the extras do sound a bit steep. I note you don't mention insurance ....?

Or can you contact the landlord and check?


H
 

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Hi,
Without knowing more details of the type of heating,the electricity tarif, hot water supply, and the "standard" of the accommodation, and the "desirability " of the neighborhood, it's not really possible to give an opinion
 

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Not sure how it is in Lyon, but in our area, the electric meters are read only twice a year. The monthly electric bills between readings are "estimates." We got into a cycle for a while where the April meter read resulted in a huge "catch-up" billing in May, followed by larger than normal billings for the months of June through October (when the second reading of the year was done). We then got a big refund in November because of the over-estimated usage and smaller bills for the following months, which led to a big bill in May again. Got sick of that and started sending self-reads of the meter each month to the electric company (NOT EDF) to eliminate the overbill/underbill cycle.

The water meter is only read here once a year, with the monthly bills then being estimates based on the prior year's actual usage.

If your flatmate doesn't get the bills, then on what basis is she charging the extra amounts for electric, water, heat, etc.? Might be time for a friendly conversation about the charges.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'm with Bev on that 'friendly conversation'!
We're a family of 4 and we paid 50€/month EDF and no more than 30€/month for water when we had our apartment (but then we didn't have heating and had a shower every other day). And it's true a lot of apartments have CC (charges compris), so I think you should take Bev's advice on this and corner that flatmate
 

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Is she charging that for each person or is that the total?

Anyway, I agree it's time to sit down and discuss this with your flat mate. Tell her you want to see the bills.
 

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Disagree; get yourself armed with as much information in advance as you possibly can and THEN ask her about everything.

H
 
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Hi BLDavies

There are some details I would think you would want to consider before you instigate a confrontation. You said you are here on a year abroad so I am guessing this arrangement is for that time period. You didn't mention if you speak fluent french nor whether you have other options that would be as desirable as what you have now. Aside from the money issue, do you get along well? Finally, there is no mention of whether or not you are legally bound with a lease or if you are free to shop around.
Frankly, though the numbers you gave seem a little high, I would hesitate to blame your French friend entirely. Three young women sharing a modern apartment in Lyon... sorry to generalize but I was a young woman once... Do you turn the lights off every time you leave a room? Do you keep your thermostat low and supplement with sweaters? Do you have modern appliances in your modern apartment (microwave, hair dryer, hot water kettle...)

The last thing I wonder is whether you appreciate what a huge service your friend is rendering by taking care of these details. From my personal experience I would say that it is highly unlikely that a French girl is skimming centimes off her friends. Sorry about tossing off another unsubstantiated generalization but I believe that your friend would be shocked and offended if you sat her down and asked her to justify these numbers. If you are not protected by a lease she may even ask you to leave. If I were you I would chalk it up to experience. Next time you can be a little more careful with the details at the beginning of the arrangement. (When my best friend's daughter and her 2 friends decided to share their 1st apt. at school, all 3 families sat down together and drew up an agreement so everyone knew what their responsibility would be.) If she turns up tomorrow with a new bill you can say you don't have any more money to budget for living expenses and you'll need to sit down and figure out how you can economize.
If I were you I would count my blessings and keep my peace. Imagine yourself 10 years down the road. Will you regret more having lost a few euros or having lost a friend?
Good luck.
tmr
 

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What I was suggesting was anything but a confrontation - "friendly conversation" was meant in precisely the literal sense. It seems only normal to me that roommates should be able to see the bills they are asking to contribute toward each month. If she is paying them herself, then she must receive something telling her how much to pay (or else she prepaid some amount) but all that should be documented somewhere.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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What I was suggesting was anything but a confrontation - "friendly conversation" was meant in precisely the literal sense. It seems only normal to me that roommates should be able to see the bills they are asking to contribute toward each month. If she is paying them herself, then she must receive something telling her how much to pay (or else she prepaid some amount) but all that should be documented somewhere.
Cheers,
Bev
why not ask to see the bills , don't suggest dishonesty , say you don't think she hasn't got her arithmetic correct ; that way she has a getout if she has been robbing you , sorry , my error lol

if she won't let you see the bills that will tell you what is happening , will it not?
 

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Hi again

I agree with you about how this sort of arrangement "should" work. It seems to me though that these details should have been agreed upon before everyone moved in. At this point to ask for a "friendly conversation" would in essence be saying, "I trusted you blindly at the beginning when I needed a place to stay, etc but now that we've been here awhile it has occurred to me that the bills seem sort of steep...". I just meant that, after the fact, a friendly conversation could go in several directions and she should be ready to deal with any consequences that may arise.
I imagine that the lease is probably in the French girl's name. I also highly doubt that the landlord of a modern apartment in Lyon rented to students is going to include utilities in the rent. The French girl may not have been required to put them in her name but almost certainly has some sort of agreement with the landlord to pay more for three girls sharing an apartment. Maybe the landlord said, "sure your friends can move in but you'll need to pay for the extra utilities - I'll let you know how much you owe me each month...". That would also explain why it seems the neighbor may have the utilities included. I don't think it is necessarily a given that the arrangement be documented in writing.
Also, my response was largely based on the fact that the amounts in question don't really seem out of line. Even based on the numbers 'ouioui' furnished, the Lyon numbers seem likely to me. A family of 4 who rations showers to every other day and does not heat is obviously very conscious of their utility budget. Just heating the water if the girls take a hot shower every day could easily make up the difference.

BLDavies specifically asked;
We want to be certain that these are excessively expensive before we go confronting her about it.
I stand by my advice (which was prefaced deliberately, "If I were you...").

tmr
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hello,
Thanks for all the tips. I wouldn't say she is a friend, we get along on a day to day basis but don't really know each other.
Aside from that we decided to go to the lettings agency today just to establish exactly what is included. It turns out that hot and cold water and all heating is included in our rent, so the numbers our housemate is charging us for those are conjured out of thin air, those bills simply don't exist. And according to the agency woman the 120 euros EDF bill seems a bit much. We need to definitely ask for paper evidence of that. Especially since her honesty seems to have gone down the drain for the water and heating. Looks like we are in for an awkward flat meeting!
 

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Oh, and forgot to say, the lease was renewed when we moved in so all three of us have our names on it so there is no way she could throw us out. The actual landlords have nothing to do with the flat. It is all managed through the agency
 

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Oh, and forgot to say, the lease was renewed when we moved in so all three of us have our names on it so there is no way she could throw us out. The actual landlords have nothing to do with the flat. It is all managed through the agency

looks like you are going to have some non contributing time coming to repay what you have overpaid !
interesting times ahead
 

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wow that's some revelation about the water bills! I must say my brother shares a house with 3 others and it's he who manages household accounts - he keeps it on a wopping great spreadsheet and sends it out to everyone once a month, to keep 'transparency'. Even though french girl is looking after the bills I think she has to realise that you're all putting money in the kitty (keeping a roof over everyone's heads, including hers) therefore you all have the right to know where that money's going...
 

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Actually NOBODY can throw you out until the end of next March. As a tenant, even if you pay no more bills, the landlord cannot, under French Law, evict you during the winter. So you've got a good 3 and a half months to get this sorted out before there might be any kind of repercussions.

Time to get sorting ....


Hils
 

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Ooh la la! Good idea going to the letting agency. I wonder why they didn't give you detailed information about what your responsibilities were when you were added to the lease. It certainly is going to be an awkward meeting - for her at least. I'd be curious to know what the edf amount is. If the water and heat are included in the rent then the electricity must be in her name - which would definitely mean that she receives a monthly bill. Bon courage!
 

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Probably not a monthly bill - two-monthly, two out of three readings will be (probably) estimates (ie one REAL reading per six(or four)-month period), but you should have access/sight of the meter and be able to monitor it.

H
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I have found the meter in a cupboard. Pretty sure it hasn't been read since we moved in, at least I haven't noticed any EDF men wandering round the flat. She should still have paper bills sent. She said she gets nothing on paper, but I am now inclined to think that is a lie.
 
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