I received a disbursement check from my ex-property management on Mach 2013.
They are telling me now about an error they made last July statement, and they are
asking me to pay them back their miscalculation.
How should I respond?
2 Answers from Attorneys
I would start with having them give you the back up documentation and the go from there. If you were in fact overpaid the right thing to do would be to give the money back
Is the property in Arizona or California, or can you tell us whether the property-management contract is governed by the law of CA or AZ? I see you have an Arizona postal code.
In California, the law governing accidental overpayments is that the recipient is under a duty to refund the excess, unless both of two conditions are present: (1) neither party suspected, or had reason to suspect, that the payment was too large at the time it was being made, i.e., there was a mutual mistake; and (2) the party receiving the overpayment has materially altered his financial position in reliance on his (mistaken) belief that the payment was correct. Sounds to me as though the first condition for you to keep the overpayment has been met, but then the court would dig into what became of the overpaid funds to see whether you had materially altered your finances in good-faith reliance on the correctness of the payment. I don't know how well you'd do here. If you're a rich guy and this extra money just went into your bank account (or the like), you'd lose. If, on the other hand, you used the overpayment to pay off your mortgage, or to pay your grandmother's doctor bills, or even lost it all at the racetrack, and you aren't well-to-do, you'd probably win.
If Arizona law applies, the answer might be the same, but California lawyers wouldn't know and shouldn't advise.
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