What is a tenant’s libility for bills regarding a lease that they assumed?

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What is a tenant’s libility for bills regarding a lease that they assumed?

I assumed a rental lease 5 months ago. After receiving my first water bill it showed that the previous tenant didn’t pay her bill and has a balance due of $90. The landlord is threatening court action on me saying I am responsible for this amount since I “assumed” her lease. I was told that I am responsible for anything that was left behind by her. The landlord uses a 3rd party billing company for water but has access to all accounts. Since they have this access, shouldn’t they have checked to see if she was current before releasing her from the lease?

Asked on May 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An assumption agreement , whcih is what you have here, does not necessarily release the old tenant from their original obligations under their lease and tenancy.  And I would so state to your landlord.  First, read the lease agreement that you signed.  I think that if there is such a thing in the lease and the landlord or former tenant knew or should have known that the bill was outstanding and failed to disclose that, you have a case for saying no and for a clause that it against public policy.  You may want to speak with a tenant's rights group. Good luck.


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