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Lawsuit alleges utility fees violate Pickwick leases

Tenants of a Northwest Baltimore apartment complex have filed a potential class-action lawsuit against their landlord, alleging they have been assessed three times the amount of utilities fees than spelled out in their lease agreements.

Pickwick Apartments also uses “vastly different and highly unfair formulas” to prorate the utility charges, giving discounts to units with more occupants in them, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

The lawsuit alleges residents in the 665-unit complex are paying the entire amount of their water and sewer bills despite lease agreements saying tenants are only responsible for one-third of the bulk-metered water and sewer bills. Tenants are also charged a “nominal administrative fee” of $4 per month to defray the cost of billing tenants for the utility charges and $3 per month for a “bay restoration fee,” according to the lawsuit.

The cost of utilities was included in tenants’ monthly rent until 2012, when Pickwick decided to charge residents a portion of the complex’s water and sewage bills as well as for their gas, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks to define the class as current and former tenants who have been assessed utility bills since Jan. 1, 2012.

The plaintiffs are represented by Nathan D. Adler and Elliott E. Engel of Neuberger, Quinn, Gielen, Rubin & Gibber P.A. in Baltimore.

The case is Shlomo Bergmann, et al., v. Pickwick East LLC.