Can landlord make me pay more on an electric bill?

My landlord included $125 for electric in the rental agreement to pay my share of a 3 unit building. He did the same for the other tenant, and he occupies the 3rd area. He came to me the beginning of December and said electric bill was$300. I got a call today saying that he received another bill and its $1200. He wants me to cover the extra expense because I had an electric heater for a couple days that month. The electric is not split and he can’t prove it was all my usage. Does he have a leg to stand on? Also, he said electric is scheduled to be shutoff on 01/04/11 for a $300 past due.

Asked on December 27, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your landlord is blowing smoke and you should immediately contact the attorney general or local HUD office in your state to report him.  First, your rental agreement (however it be a bad deal for him) is that, an agreement, a binding contract. So he loses. He did not condition the usage in the contract but wrote a base amount ($125).  He will unfortunately have to choose to split the usage and pay for that or raise it in the next round of lease renewals or new leases. As to shutting off the electricity, he must provide both tenants a habitable living space.  Electricity is required and he will have to figure out how to handle this matter. In the meantime, consider making a demand on him to pay you back your security and help you move if he won't provide electricity, or to provide security and not demand more money than to what you have been contractually obligated under the lease.


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