Can a landlord hold utility bills until the end of the lease and then take them out of the security deposit?

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2011

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Can a landlord hold utility bills until the end of the lease and then take them out of the security deposit?

My daughter has been renting a place for a year and they are moving now. The lease says that she pays all utilities and she has been paying everything on time, on a monthly basis, except for the water. Now the landlord is saying that she will show her the water bills for the last 12 months and take that amount out of the security deposit. Can she do that?

Asked on June 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) If the lease requires your daughter to pay for water bills, she must pay them.

2) The landlord could seek to have your daughter pay them as they come up--or he can "hold them" and confront her with them all at once. The law lets him do either; what he can't do is to charge her more than she agreed to pay under the lease.

3) If the water bills or utility bills generally are made part of the rent that your daughter pays under the lease, then the landlord may well be able to take them out of the security deposit, since the security deposit may be used to satisfy unpaid rent. Alternately, he could sue for the money.

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