What can be done over landlord tenant dispute over utility services? 8 Answers as of February 15, 2013

I am a tenant. I pay my rent on time. My lease say that I need to pay my utilities so I pay for my electric utility, which is on my name always on time. Now, the gas utility is not yet on my name, it’s on LL name. She doesn’t want to change it even after my request. My heating and hot water uses gas so she shows me the total gas bill. I owe her every month, which come on her name every time. I also discovered that she uses the heating and hot water downstairs which contributes to the total gas bill. In this case, what are my options? Do I have to pay half the gas bill or pay nothing? I’m so confused. Please help. Thanks.

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Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
It all depends on what your lease specifies. Typically, a tenant pays for gas along with electricity, and the landlord pays for water and garbage. If your lease specifies that you are to pay the gas, you should pay only for your unit (if you are in an apartment). If you are in an apartment, call the gas company and ask whether your unit is separately metered. If so, tell your landlord that you are going to pay only for your unit. If you are living in the upstairs of a house, your part of the house will not be separately metered and you will need to work out a fair split so that you pay only for your gas use. If you can't work something out with the landlord, you would have grounds to leave.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 2/15/2013
Reade & Associates
Reade & Associates | R. Christopher Reade
If your lease states that you must pay utilities, you are required to pay the utilities for you unit, which would include the gas, water, sewer etc. The issue arises when you Landlord attempts to show what your pro rata usage is. You should pay your pro rata portion of common utilities but not more.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 2/15/2013
S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
If there are two or more apartments to the place where you live the landlord should have separate gas and electric meters for each unit. Otherwise, the landlord has to pay the utilities because he cannot charge one tenant for the gas used by other tenants in their apartments. However, what the landlord typically does in these cases is to factor in the amount of the utilities in determining the rental rate for each of the tenants. This could have the result that, although the landlord pays the utility bills from the rental income, one tenant might still end up paying a higher part or even all of a gas bill as part of the tenant's rent. It appears that, in this case, your landlord is attempting a variation of this option. However, because gas bills fluctuate from month to month it would be difficult for the landlord to justify the separate payment for gas as being part of the rent. Should you wish, you could file a complaint with the Pa Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as they have jurisdiction over these issues.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 2/15/2013
Peters Law, PLLC
Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
It sounds like there is only one meter for the gas. Write her a letter, send it certified mail and keep a copy of what you send her. In the letter tell her that the lease says that you are supposed to pay for your utilities and you want a separate gas meter for your portion of the house and you want the gas in your name. Alternatively, since she is using the gas also, you believe your obligation is to pay one-half the gas bill, not all of it. Then tell her that if she does not come to an agreeable solution within in 30 days, you will treat that as a constructive eviction and will move out.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 2/15/2013
Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
If your lease requires that you pay all utilities, you would be responsible for your gas usage. If it is not separate metered, there is no real way of you knowing how much you are actually using. If this is going to be an ongoing problem, it may be time for you to look for a new place to rent.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/15/2013
    Winnick Ruben Hoffnung Peabody & Mendel, LLC | Daniel N. Hoffnung
    Send her a letter demanding separate metering.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 2/15/2013
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq.
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq. | Neil J. Lehto
    In the absence of a more specific provision in the lease, you should split the utility bills equally with your landlord. Is there a water bill, too?
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/15/2013
    Ken Love Law | Kenneth Love
    These kind of situations are very difficult, especially since the lease does not address this. If you can't resolve it, you may need to sue your landlord in Small claims court to get a ruling as to who owes what.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 2/15/2013
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