If the landlord did not turn the utilities over to tenant and sends a lump sum bill for them, is the tenant still responsible?

Our former landlord sent us a lump sum for the utilities. This was prior to my mother, my children and myself breaking the lease due to our roommates. We were to have the bills turned over to us which the landlords never did. Now they are claiming the security deposit for the bills. Do they have the right to do so or can we sue them?

Asked on September 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

At the end of a lease a landlord is required to return a tenant's security deposit or any debits from it with a certain time period after the move out date (usually 21 to 45 days depending upon the state where the lease is located).

Included in the debit amount should be copies of receipts showing the reasons for the reduction from the full security deposit.

If your landlord did not send you the invoice for the utilities and reduced the amount of the utilities owed in total from your security deposit without allocating the remaining tenants' obligations for these utility bills, you are entitled to a refund for what was taken from your security deposit.

I would write your landlord about the improper debit that he made asking for a refund of what you believe is owed you. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference. If you do not receive what is owed you in the requested time period, small claims court seems to be your next option.

Good luck.


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