What to do if my landlord is trying to charge me for a large water bill that is high because he failed to make repairs on a toilet?

A couple months ago I called my apartment’s maintenance over a toilet that wouldn’t stop running. Nothing was done and just today my landlord called to say I would need to pay the large water bill. I told him I would pay the average cost of a water bill but that anything over that would be his responsibility because maintenance failed to fix the problem I reported.

Asked on March 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the lease agreement (whether oral or written) does not normally have you responsible for the water bill, then you would not have to pay it at all--the landlord cannot add a new cost or fee to the lease which you ageed to.

Even if the lease does ordinarily have you paying for water, then you should not have to pay for any costs caused by the landlord's failure to make repairs following you providing him with notice of the need to do so. As  you note, you should only be responsible for that portion of the bill attributable to normal usage, not that due to a defective toilet which the landlord refused to fix. His failure to perform maintenance does not impose costs on you as the tenant.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the lease agreement (whether oral or written) does not normally have you responsible for the water bill, then you would not have to pay it at all--the landlord cannot add a new cost or fee to the lease which you ageed to.

Even if the lease does ordinarily have you paying for water, then you should not have to pay for any costs caused by the landlord's failure to make repairs following you providing him with notice of the need to do so. As  you note, you should only be responsible for that portion of the bill attributable to normal usage, not that due to a defective toilet which the landlord refused to fix. His failure to perform maintenance does not impose costs on you as the tenant.


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